Government 'right' to close school - academic

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 16:15 14/12/2012

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A leading academic says the Government is right to close Salisbury School and claims that intellectually disabled girls could be vulnerable to sexual assaults were "archaic scaremongering".

Education Minister Hekia Parata announced the closure of Salisbury School and proposed the female students be moved to a boys school in Christchurch next year.

But a judge has overruled that, finding the closure to be unlawful after the school sought a judicial review.

Justice Robert Dobson said the decision disregarded "the prospect of greater risk of sexual or physical abuse" to the girls if they were sent to a co-ed special needs school.

The Minister is said to be preparing a response.

But a Massey education specialist, Dr Jude MacArthur, said that view was at odds with the New Zealand Disability Strategy.

“To portray young men with intellectual disabilities as sexually deviant and ‘predating’ on girls is inaccurate, damaging and archaic," she said.

"This just perpetuates negative stereotypes of disabled people and contributes further to their marginalisation in society."

MacArthur has also taken aim at the school's lawyer, Mai Chen, who has commented on air that young males with intellectual disabilties could start predating on girls who were in the same facility.

“These harmful myths should be a thing of the past and Ms Chen’s comments are just another sign it really is time to end the segregation of people with disabilities,” she said.

New Zealand's Disability Strategy, under the Office for Disability Issues, proposes inclusive education in regular schools is vital to the quality of life of disabled people.

MacArthur said hiding people away was not the way to deal with antisocial behaviour from others.

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