'Takeover' plot by rebel principals
A group of rebel principals plotted to "quietly take over" an association representing 90 per cent of school boards in an effort to overwhelm the national standards debate, leaked emails suggest.
An email exchange shows principals involved in a boycott of the standards discussed "dealing with" the New Zealand School Trustees Association.
"The easiest way is for us to quietly take over regional organisations of NZSTA ... Just imagine NZSTA run by principals!" an email written by Hora Hora School principal Pat Newman states.
Mr Newman is former president of the Principals' Federation and the immediate past president of the Tai Tokerau Principals Association.
He is one of two Labour Party members vying for selection to stand as the Labour candidate in Whangarei next year.
His email was sent to, among others, Denise Torrey, president of the Canterbury Primary Principals Association; Frances Nelson, president of the national primary teachers' union; Iain Taylor, president of the Auckland Primary Principals Association, and Perry Rush, Island Bay School principal.
Marlene Campbell, principal of Invercargill's Salford School and a member of the Southland Primary Principals Association executive, which this week called Education Minister Anne Tolley "Minister Hitler", was also a recipient. All have been vocal critics of the national standards.
Mr Taylor responded to Mr Newman's August 20 email with: "Oh that the go!! Great thinking ... loved ya email to her too ... man she awful!!" Mr Taylor was referring to NZSTA president Lorraine Kerr, who has refused to criticise or fully endorse the standards.
The NZSTA is the national organisation for school boards.
Mr Newman said his email was private. "The email in question was an irreverent one sent by me as a result of the frustration and disquiet I was feeling, around the fact that NZSTA had, and still does, refuse to consult with boards of trustees in any meaningful way on the national standards issue."
It was a personal comment and the recipients did not automatically agree with what the email said. "To be realistic, instead of trying to read a conspiracy theory around it, any normal reader would realise that what was suggested was done tongue-in- cheek, and is neither a feasible nor practical suggestion."
The first line of Mr Newman's email states: "Seriously folks, [Nelson Park principal] Nevan [Bridge] has hit a good point. At some stage we as principals need to deal with NZSTA."
The email suggests principals could turn out at regional meetings of the NZSTA and outnumber everyone else as a voting bloc.
Mrs Tolley said a "hard core" of critics had been campaigning against the standards since before they were introduced. "The unions and Labour Party activists, who include some principals, have been trying to influence and probably bully some of the boards of trustees.
"There is a lot of it going on and ... there is not a lot out there that is tongue-in-cheek."Some of the criticism had become "quite personal and nasty".
"That's not constructive. People can call one another names until the cows come home ... But to me, they're a distraction."
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