Parata's no-show at Salisbury: She 'won't have all the facts'
Education Minister Hekia Parata's refusal to visit Salisbury School means her decision on its fate will be made without all the facts, the school's board says.
Today is the final day of consultation on the Education Ministry's plan to move to a new "wrap-around" model for special education, which could result in the closure of one or more of the country's four special schools.
The model aims to take students out of the schools and have them live at home to be managed by a range of agencies. An initial decision is expected on August 15.
This week the Richmond school's board of trustees, along with Nelson mayor Aldo Miccio and Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne, invited the minister to visit the school and meet the students and staff before making her decision.
But yesterday a spokesman for Mrs Parata said she would not be visiting the school, as it would not be appropriate for her to visit after the consultation process closed.
The minister's schedule had not allowed to her visit earlier, but she had met with the Special Schools Principals Association, which represents residential special schools, the spokesman said.
Board of trustees chairwoman Helen McDonnell said she was disappointed with the decision, and disagreed that the period following consultation would be an inappropriate time.
"That would be an excellent time to visit as part of her deliberations. She would be able to see what it is that she's potentially closing.
"I would say that before she makes this decision she would be wanting to gather up as much information through those discussions so that she is informed."
Had she visited, the minister would have got a feel for the students, the teachers and the quality of teaching the school delivered, Mrs McDonnell said.
Principal Brenda Ellis said she was surprised that the minister had declined to visit the school.
"I would assume that she's an astute person and she would want all the background, especially with what's happened recently when she had to do a u-turn on a decision [based] on getting wrong advice.
"I would think she would be extremely careful."
Other ministers who had visited had been surprised and impressed by what they saw, and a visit would not take long, she said.
"It's not like she has to go around and visit all the schools in the country, we're only talking four residential schools."
Ms Ellis will today hand-deliver the school's submission to the ministry in Wellington, as a way of acknowledging the amount of hard work that had gone into the submission.
"We really want them to take us seriously."
Mr Miccio said it was a shame that the minister could not find time to visit during the consultation period.
"But our message is clear and I trust she will take a good look at revisiting her decision in light of the information we have provided."
Mr Kempthorne said he was trusting that the minister would look at the well-reasoned support for the school and take that into account when she was making her decision.
- © Fairfax NZ News
What do you think about the planned 'boulevard' development for Rocks Rd ?Related story: (See story)