No appeal over Salisbury decision

HAMISH RUTHERFORD AND ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 14:12 12/12/2012
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Education Minister Hekia Parata

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Education Minister Hekia Parata has ruled out an appeal over the High Court decision on the closure of Nelson's Salisbury school.

Parata said the safety of children was paramount and at the forefront of considerations during the process to close two and retain two residential schools.

In a reserved judgment yesterday, High Court judge Robert Dobson said Parata's order to close Salisbury School was unlawful because it relied on the possibility of sending some girls to live at a boys special needs school in Christchurch.

That disregarded warnings the girls would face greater risk of sexual abuse.

Parata said the judgment identified issues "that I now need to consider in any fresh decision about the school. I will take some time to do that but I am not going to appeal this decision''.

"I realise that the changes in residential special education has created an uncertain environment for students and their families at Salisbury School. I do not wish this decision to continue that uncertainty so as well as the existing option of the Intensive Wraparound Service, Salisbury School will remain open next year for students currently attending the school.

"The Board of Salisbury has been advised of this as well as my intention to meet with them early in the New Year.''

"All of us want the best outcomes for learners with complex special education needs. I am committed to making sure that happens.

SACK PARATA: GREENS

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei has called for Parata to be sacked after the judge's ruling.

Turei said this was Parata's "latest and most dangerous failure" and left her position untenable. She called on Prime Minister John Key to sack her.

National had also faced a public backlash over plans to close schools in Canterbury following the earthquakes.

"Hekia Parata's blatant disregard for the safety of girls at Salisbury College in Nelson must be the final straw,'' Turei said.

Parata was unwilling to listen and her refusal to heed warnings about pupil safety was "dangerous and extraordinarily arrogant."

"What kind of minister would put school girls in harm's way? You simply can' t have someone in the job who does that," she said.

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