Flag youths in trouble - school

School was never informed about the boy's past

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 11/12/2012
Kurth
ANDY JACKSON/FairfaxNZ
Jordan Nelson, who killed Rosemary Kurth, a good samaritan who acted as his mother.

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Waitara High School's principal is calling for the Ministry of Education to provide more information about troubled youth.

Jenny Gellen said more forewarning about students moving into the area could help keep them on the straight and narrow.

A prime example, Ms Gellen said, was 13-year-old pupil Jordan Nelson, who has been found guilty of the murder of his grandfather's partner, Rosemaree Kurth, in April.

Ms Gellen said the school had never been informed about the boy's past involvement with Child, Youth and Family, or any behavioural or pastoral issues.

She expressed concern that the ministry's electronic student record system, Enrol, often failed to raise red flags about students' health, behavioural or family issues.

Ms Gellen said Enrol shows a list of the schools a student had attended but just because someone had been to lots of schools doesn't mean they are a trouble.

"You can have kids who have moved around a lot because their parents are sharemilkers or something similar," she said.

"Unless the system says the student has been at an institution, then we don't know anything."

Ms Gellen said Child, Youth and Family in Taranaki was very good to work with but in Jordan's case even it didn't know his history.

A ministry spokesman said Enrol does not replace the paper-based system of passing teaching and learning notes from school to school.

"Enrol does not store notes but allows one school to notify the next that they exist and they can be requested," the spokesman said.

"By using Enrol the ‘last school' attended can advise the ‘next school', of issues that may potentially impact on a student's placement and pastoral care.

"The responsibility of passing that information on lies with the teachers and schools."

Ms Gellen says she was not the only school or principal to have dealt with troubled youth from outside of the area.

In 2002 three Waitara teenagers were charged with the murder of 60-year-old truck driver Kenneth Pigott.

Ms Gellen says Waitara's principal at the time also had not received necessary information about one of the girls who had transferred from Palmerston North.

She says the education system was letting the students down and in turn society was being let down. "99.8 per cent of our students come from great homes and communities and it's just a couple of students who are ruining the school's good name."

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New Plymouth police youth services co-ordinator Andrew Ross said they had been unaware of Jordan's presence in Waitara but they had no reason to be concerned.

"He was placed here on a care and protection plan and there are kids all over the country in new places because of that," he said. "If he was a youth offender we would have been told about him but he wasn't so there wasn't a genuine reason for us to know he was here."

Mr Ross says he would expect a school principal to be told by Child, Youth and Family that a student with a troubled past has moved into their area.

- Taranaki Daily News

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