Public meeting to air school woes

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 12:45 10/12/2012

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A public meeting will be held this week amid ongoing tensions between members of the Murchison Area School community.

Murchison woman Maureen Smith, who has grandchildren at the school, said she called the meeting, at the Murchison Recreation Centre at 7pm on Wednesday, because she was concerned at the way the school was being run.

Many people had approached her with similar concerns about the school, and so she had decided to call a meeting to air those in public and open the channels of communication, she said.

"Someone needs to get it out because it's dividing the town."

She said she had also sent a letter to the Ministry of Education calling for the sacking of the board and the principal, and the appointment of a commissioner to manage the transition to a new board.

Principal Liz Wooster said she had been very surprised to find out about the meeting, and was unaware of any ongoing issues that needed to be resolved.

"None of those people have been to see me yet, so I'm not sure what the issues are, so I'm not going to comment any further."

She would not be attending, nor would anyone from the board, nor would anyone from the Ministry of Education, she said.

She would not comment on the call for her and the board's sacking.

"Until I know what the issues are and someone has been to see me, we are open and we will have dialogue.

"The door will be open for those people to go through the correct procedures and complaints policy, and I think that's what the ministry will be saying."

Board chair Ed Penman said he had not received any complaints about the school's management, but if people thought there was a problem, they should follow the correct procedure.

"If they've got a problem with the management surely they report it to the board.

"Why would you call a public meeting without even talking to the chairman of the board to see if you can get any satisfaction?

"That's the only thing we've got, otherwise vigilantes will take over the world."

He would not be attending the meeting as he would be away.

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor said he was aware of an employment issue with one teacher at the school, and "rumblings" in the community, and he had sought assurances from the board that they were handling the issue appropriately.

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- The Nelson Mail

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