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ACE redundancies illegal

Media Release
18 August 2009

ACE redundancies illegal

The government could be forcing secondary schools to break the law if schools are left with no option but to sack night class staff before existing adult and community education (ACE) funding contracts expire in December, said PPTA president Kate Gainsford.

Since the government cut $16 million for night class funding in this year’s Budget, schools have been asking who is liable for funding the staff redundancies.

“The Ministry of Education has washed its hands of any responsibility and the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and the School Trustees Association have advised schools to stop delivering night classes in terms 3 and 4 so they can use that money to pay redundancies,” she said.

PPTA believes such action may not be legal because the funding is supplied by government through the Tertiary Education Commission solely for the purpose of delivering night classes.

“We believe it would be a breach of the contract between TEC and individual schools to be canning the classes and using the money for other purposes.”

“Schools must run the courses they contracted for until the end of the year. So cancelling night class programmes before then in order to use the programmes’ funding for redundancy payments is not an option.”

PPTA is seeking advice about the legality of closing down programmes while keeping the money. The association is also seeking advice to ascertain whether the TEC and the School Trustees Association encouraged schools to breach their funding contracts.

“We understand the pressure schools are under but they can’t play fast and loose with public money – end of story.”

“The real problem is the government cut the funding in haste without thinking through the implications. The agencies don’t seem to have a clue about what to do and schools are being kept in the dark. John Key needs to step in and fix up this mess by reinstating the funding – even if only for another year – so this mess can be sorted.”

ENDS

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