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Hekia Parata Should Step Aside, Despite PM's Backing

Thursday 14 February, 2013

Salisbury Continues to Believe Hekia Parata Should Step Aside, Despite Prime Minister’s Backing

Salisbury School’s Board continues to believe that Hon Hekia Parata should step aside from decisions concerning the school’s future, despite Prime Minister John Key’s decision to retain her as the Minister responsible for Salisbury School.

Salisbury School Board Chair Helen McDonnell says the Board is disappointed that the Prime Minister wishes to retain Hekia Parata, as they strongly believe she cannot make future decisions about Salisbury with an open mind.

“We are very disappointed by the Prime Minister’s decision,” says McDonnell. “The Minister’s 2012 decision to close Salisbury Residential School was unlawful, and subsequent events clearly point to her and the ministry having predetermined our school’s future, and the future of the girls we care for.”

Documents produced during Salisbury School’s successful High Court case last year show that the Government had already signed off on the concept of a co-educational school based at Halswell Residential School back in May 2011.

“The Minister’s desire to close our school last year and the fact that official documentation shows it has been contemplated since 2011, shows a pre-determined view. We can see no evidence of the Minister being capable of an impartial and unbiased decision,” she says.

“Our successful High Court case proves that any decisions about Salisbury’s future must be made fairly, lawfully and in accordance with the Education Act. To put the decision back in the hands of the same Minister and officials who tried to unlawfully close us last year is not just, fair or reasonable. Our girls deserve better.” Salisbury School is committed to resolving the matter and urges the Government to work with the Board to find a solution. “We want to work with the Government for the best outcome for our students and their families, but the decisionmaking process needs to be lawful and reasonable. We want to work with the Minister, but we can’t if she has a closed mind and a pre-determined view,” she says.

Salisbury School is also concerned that the Ministry of Education is treating it unfairly while it awaits a decision. “Our funding has been cut by 53% and the Ministry has taken over our admissions process adopting a ‘sinking lid’ policy. This is making it even harder for girls to enrol at Salisbury, making closure a fait accompli,” she says.

McDonnell says the Board acknowledges that the Minister and the Ministry are entitled to adopt policies for special education, and that these may adversely affect Salisbury School. However, Salisbury is adamant that any decisions must be made lawfully. They cannot be carried out in a manner which predetermines the outcome of the statutory process for closing a special school.

- Ends-

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