Christchurch Girls' principal to fight for job

CAROLINE KING AND MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 05:00 03/11/2012
Prue Taylor
John Kirk-Anderson

EXIT: Prue Taylor.

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Sacked Christchurch Girls' High School principal Prue Taylor, whose husband was killed in the Canterbury Television building collapse, has vowed to fight her dismissal.

Yesterday, the school's board of trustees released a brief media statement saying they had "terminated" Taylor's employment.

"There have been issues and tensions between the principal and the board of trustees over a long period of time. A recent Education Review Office review and report confirmed that these issues needed to be resolved urgently."

The news has left some parents in "shock" and Taylor told The Press she was prepared to fight for her position in the Employment Relations Authority.

"I will be challenging the decision. There's not a lot more I can say," she said.

Taylor, who has been principal at the school for 13 years, said she suspected she was going to be sacked for some time but declined to comment further.

Taylor has suffered a heartbreaking two years. She lost her husband, Brian, in the collapse of the CTV building, before her grandson, Olly Taylor, who was only 21 months old, died suddenly in June.

Last night parents told The Press of their surprise at losing the long-serving principal of a school with just over 1000 pupils.

Deb Parr said her daughter, Kitty Dunkley, who is a year 13 prefect, texted: "OMG [Oh My God] What? Why?" when she heard the news.

"[I'm] shocked. The kids have loved her," Parr said.

Parr also questioned the timing of the announcement.

"How could [the board of trustees] do this at this time of year? What are they thinking of when the kids are a couple of weeks away from exams?

"There's been no consultation with any parents beforehand. It just seems wrong."

Louise Green, who has daughters in year 9 and year 12, was taken aback.

"We're really disappointed. Particularly after what Prue's been through this year.

"I really don't have any understanding as to what the reason behind it was.

"It came as a complete surprise. Prue's been great to our daughters."

Peter Macdonald, a spokesman for the school's board, said the decision was regrettable but necessary.

When asked why Taylor was sacked, Macdonald said: "The senior management of the school and board had lost trust and confidence in the leadership of the school.

"The board has been working proactively with the principal to try to resolve matters. That hasn't been successful."

He would not go into greater detail.

"From the board's perspective, Prue is a very fine person," he said.

"This is not the outcome we wished. It's very regrettable."

The Education Review Office's report on the school, released in August, said the school was "not well placed" to sustain and improve its performance.

It said professional relationships between the board, principal and senior managers "are of concern" and had "the potential to hinder the school's progress" and had "to be resolved urgently".

"The board has sought the services of an external consultant to resolve these concerns, but at the time of this review there has been no satisfactory resolution."

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The report, signed by Graham Randell, of ERO's southern region, recommended the secretary for education consider intervention in the school to help resolve the concerns about the relationships between the board, principal and senior management.

Girls' High was earmarked to merge with Avonside Girls' High School and operate a split shift in the Education Ministry's original announcement on the future of Christchurch schools in September.

The move was swiftly put on the backburner after an outcry from principals.

The ministry is now awaiting a geotechnical report for the site.

The school's website now lists Peter Sawyer as acting principal.

Taylor's name is no longer listed among senior staff.

- The Press

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