School denies sex risk to pupils

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2012
tdn hek stand
FAIRFAX
Education Minister Hekia Parata

Relevant offers

Education

Birkenhead College gets new principal for third time in 44 years Challenges ahead for new teacher graduands and the education profession, NZEI president Louise Green says Christchurch special needs school one of five using seclusion in 2016 Childcare centres losing teachers to kindergartens over pay Jonathan Milne: When they endanger themselves and others, it's time to crack down on reckless boaties Kiwi kid discovers the one wheel way to school rather than being dropped every day South Island councils work on school traffic safety Foot It: Garrulous mayor Tim Shadbolt and his son show scooters aren't just for kids New crossings and speed-calming measures making it easier for Auckland kids to walk to school Foot It: Councils given mandate to cut speed limits outside schools

A High Court ruling that claims special-needs girls risk sexual and physical abuse if moved to a Christchurch boys' school has been criticised by their proposed new school.

The High Court's findings, released on Tuesday, said Education Minister Hekia Parata's plans to move girls from Salisbury School in Nelson to Halswell Residential College in Christchurch were unlawful.

Justice Dobson said the move disregarded "the prospect of greater risk of sexual or physical abuse" to the girls if they shifted to a co-educational special-needs school.

However, board chairman Simon Buckland said yesterday that the college had robust systems to ensure pupils' safety, including monitoring sleeping arrangements and excluding pupils with adverse sexual behaviour from enrolling.

"The information that is now being portrayed in the media and that was recently presented at the High Court is misleading and vague and is not a reflection of safety at Halswell Residential College," he said.

"A safe learning and living environment is a priority for this board and the staff."

The board had welcomed Parata's preliminary decision in August to retain a national co-ed residential school for pupils with intellectual difficulties.

Salisbury School's board and parents strongly opposed the move, welcoming the result of the judicial review.

"To date, the board has been respectful of the path Salisbury has chosen to take," Buckland said.

"However, we can no longer remain silent in view of the unfounded comments bringing Halswell Residential College, its staff, current and past students and family/whanau into disrepute.

"We strongly urge a respectful dialogue that regards the achievements and successful outcomes for the many past and present learners, staff and community of our school."

He said the school had run a co-ed satellite class for four years and had had some female pupils since the February 2011 earthquake.

Parata said yesterday she would "carefully consider" the High Court decision, and ruled out appealing it.

Ad Feedback

- The Press

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content