Sacked principal back on payroll

PAUL EASTON
Last updated 13:43 08/01/2014
Moarikura Johnson
REINSTATED: Moarikua Johnson.

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Wellington

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The principal of a Wellington Maori language immersion school, sacked after concerns over her performance, has been placed back on the payroll.

The Employment Relations Authority ordered the interim reinstatement of Moarikura Johnson to Seatoun's Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Nga Mokopuna, but only to the payroll.

Ongoing employment issues will be addressed at a hearing later this month.

The Employment Relations Authority found Ms Johnson had been ''most likely'' unjustifiably dismissed by a board that did not follow proper procedure.

While there was a lengthy list of concerns over Ms Johnson's performance, none of the alleged matters involved serious misconduct, Employment Relations Authority member Greg Wood said.

The board wrote to Ms Johnson on August 29, inviting her to discuss several issues.

These included arriving late and leaving early from hui, bringing family members to hui, being absent during the big Seddon-based earthquake in August, and staff failing to evacuate pupils to higher ground during the quake.

There were also a lack of planing, and unprofessional conduct, after a teacher did not produce reports on time.

In response, Ms Johnson said she had attended all hui, but left after verbal attacks on her.

She believed her whanau were entitled to attend.

Ms Johnson said she was at a dental appointment when the earthquake happened, and staff knew where she was.

They should have ensured the school was evacuated to higher ground, she said.

Ms Johnson accepted there were issues with staff, but said they should be dealt with directly and were not up for general discussion.

She was sacked by letter on November 18.

The Employment Relations Authority found that in dismissing Ms Johnson, the Board ''appears to have ignored alternative methods of resolution provided for in the parties' collective employment agreement''.

It had dismissed her in the absence of clear delegated authority to do so.

There was also no evidence of why Ms Johnson was dismissed after a six to seven week hiatus period.

Ms Johnson accepted responsibility for some of the issues raised, especially around staff management, but also said she had not beenbacked by the board.

As a first time principal she said she deserved support, not to be summarily dismissed ''out of the blue''.

Mr Wood urged the two parties to work together and resolve their differences, despite evidence the relationship between Ms Johnson and staff was ''clearly fraught''.

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Staff signed a letter of no confidence in Ms Johnson, after her dismissal, ''but I note that in most cases involving personal relationships there are two sides to every story''.

The Employment Relations Authority ordered the interim reinstatement of Ms Johnson to the payroll, until a substantive investigation meeting could take place.

A school spokeswoman declined to comment.

- The Dominion Post

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