Marlborough Girls' College principal Karen Stewart appointed principal of Rangiora High School

Marlborough Girls' College principal Karen Stewart will take the reigns at Rangiora High School in July.
RICKY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Marlborough Girls' College principal Karen Stewart will take the reigns at Rangiora High School in July.

After more than a year without, Rangiora High School will have a permanent principal in July.

Marlborough Girls' College principal Karen Stewart has been appointed and will start in the role in term three.

A letter to parents from Rangiora High commissioner Bev Moore on Friday said an advisory group, consulted on the hire in the absence of a board of trustees, were impressed by Stewart's "extensive educational and leadership experience".

Marlborough Girls' College principal Karen Stewart will take the reigns at Rangiora High School in July.
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

Marlborough Girls' College principal Karen Stewart will take the reigns at Rangiora High School in July.

"At the end of the [interview] process it was unanimous that Mrs Stewart was the right person for the role," Moore said.

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"One of our students on the advisory group summed up Mrs Stewart's application by saying 'this person has everything we asked for and more.'"

The principal of Marlborough Girls' College since 2006, Stewart also serves on the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology Council and works three days a week as co-leader of New Zealands first community of learning (COL).

The Marlborough COL, one of the largest with 21 schools and six kindergartens, sets shared goals for the region's educational community.

Stewart said she was "delighted" by the appointment and keen to become better acquainted with the Rangiora community and its COL.

"I'm really interested to learn more about that [COL]. It has been a huge learning curve, it's really helped my leadership. I'm a firm believer in COLs having a place in raising learning achievement".

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Stewart was born in Christchurch and has family and farming links in North Canterbury, but said she usually visited during school holidays, limiting her involvement with Rangiora High.

"It's a community I would love to give back to. I see this as a really exciting opportunity."

She will take over from acting principal Julia Malcolm, who assumed the role following the controversial dismissal of Peggy Burrows in March last year.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) found Moore wrongfully fired Burrows following a $150,000 investigation into who leaked 11 confidential board documents to TVNZ in April 2015.

Moore, who replaced the school's board of trustees in February that year amid concerns over its financial management, failed to "satisfy herself that no other member of staff or past or present board members could have been involved", the ERA determined.

The authority awarded Burrows $150,000 for lost wages but declined to reinstate her as principal, citing fractured relationships with senior staff.

Stewart did not wish to be drawn on turbulence in the school's recent past, other than to say it was "really important that I spend some time talking to the students and the staff to get to know the community more than I do".

After 24 years at Marlborough Girls' College, she said her impending move to North Canterbury was "bittersweet".

"In a situation like this you are sad to leave a community you care about and are part of, but I am excited for this moment."

Her arrival will likely catalyse board of trustees elections, and a return to self-governance, for Rangiora High in November.

The Ministry of Education has signalled the two-year Government intervention at the school will end this year, although this "tentative timeline" would be reassessed in September.

 

 - Stuff

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