Principal fighting to retain job

LAUREN HAYES
Last updated 05:00 17/03/2014
Marlene Campbell
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
SUSPENDED: Salford School principal Marlene Campbell.

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An Invercargill principal is vowing to fight after being sacked by the school's government-appointed commissioner.

Commissioner Nicola Hornsey yesterday confirmed she had dismissed Marlene Campbell from her employment at Salford School in Invercargill.

Campbell was suspended by limited statutory manager Peter Macdonald more than four months ago, following the resignation of the school board.

The school has been under statutory management since November 2012, when an Education Review Office report noted high staff turnover and dissatisfaction.

Yesterday, Campbell said she had been the target of "an orchestrated campaign" deliberately designed to end in her dismissal.

Mr Macdonald came into the school determined to remove her as principal, as he had done in Wakatipu High School and Christchurch Girls' High, Campbell said.

He had not worked with her to identify and resolve the issues raised by a small group of staff and ex-staff, and had undermined her at every opportunity, she said.

"I feel as if there has been a campaign to drag this process out as long as possible in the hope I will give up or be bankrupted by the ongoing legal costs I am being forced to incur to clear my name and reputation."

The whole affair had humiliated her and her family, causing her considerable emotional strain, but it was important to fight against the injustice of the process, she said.

"I will not give up. I love Salford School and teaching. That is my passion, despite this process almost breaking me and my family."

She was also concerned the prolonged intervention had cost the school its extensive financial reserves.

Campbell has applied to the Employment Relations Authority for an order reinstating her to her former position.

Hornsey has signalled she will be opposing this application, saying relief principal Kevin Orlowski will continue at the school while the application is in train.

Others have come out in support of the principal.

Former Salford School board of trustees chairwoman Michele Poole yesterday set up a page on the Give A Little fundraising website to collect donations towards Campbell's legal fees.

Poole said she aimed to raise $50,000, the estimated cost of Campbell's reinstatement claim.

Campbell and her family had already paid $70,000 in legal fees, on top of a $30,000 contribution from the NZ Principals' Association's insurance fund and $30,000 pro bono work from her law firm, Poole said.

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- The Southland Times

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