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Helensville Primary School Board Dispute Gets Nasty After Car Crash

Regan Cunliffe is calling for the immediate resignation of Leigh Harland, secretary of the Helensville Primary School Board of Trustees.

His call comes after the secretary's husband commented on a news story about the near-fatal crash Mr Cunliffe and his wife were involved in.

“Pity it didn’t run the guy in the car over, he’s a fuckhead”, Mr Brooke Harland wrote publicly on Facebook.

Mr Cunliffe has been in a protracted dispute with Helensville Primary School since early 2018. On Tuesday, he and his wife miraculously walked away from a serious car versus truck and trailer crash.

“My wife and I are deeply hurt by the ongoing comments and threatening phone calls made by those associated with the Board. We have felt there has been a lack of empathy ever since we laid the first complaint against Principal Deborah Heasman.”

“The events that triggered the dispute with the school, the ongoing conduct of the school, along with the lack of resolution has compounded the stress and trauma. On top of this, we’ve had two extremely traumatic events in quick succession. For my wife and I to then read his comment was horrific. I don’t think we had even spoken a word to him before this."

“If this is what these people are saying about me publicly, I’d hate to imagine how bad it is behind closed doors,” Mr Cunliffe said.

In December, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner concluded in an investigation that the Board had interfered with the Cunliffes privacy, had no proper basis to withhold information, and to release the information without undue delay.

Part of the information requested includes details of an allegation made by the Board to the Ministry of Education that the Cunliffes made “direct threats” during mediation in September 2018 in relation to the “safety and well-being of staff”.

The Cunliffes have denied this happened and made a request under the Privacy Act for the Board to release the information they held to identify what those “direct threats” were. Despite the request of the Cunliffes, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s request for a summary to be released, the Board is continuing to refuse to state what they were.

“While I have been utterly appalled at the conduct of governance and management at Helensville Primary School, I couldn’t imagine wishing physical harm on any of them, especially death,” Mr Cunliffe said.

“They’ve accused me and my wife of making ‘direct threats’ in regards to the ‘safety and well-being of staff’ but refuse to say what they actually were while those connected to them make public statements wishing harm to me and my family”.

In January, the Cunliffe’s youngest son was diagnosed with Leukaemia.

A Limited Statutory Manager was appointed to Helensville Primary School by the Ministry of Education in December.

The Board recently implemented a Parental Behaviour policy.

The Helensville Primary School website lists the Board of Trustees as Nicola Keen-Biggelaar (Chair), David Allen (Deputy Chair), Cara Pinnell, Israil Foreman, Dan Wood, Tania McCorkindale, David Munro (Co-Opted), and Deborah Heasman (Principal).

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