School denies sex risk to pupils

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2012
tdn hek stand
FAIRFAX
Education Minister Hekia Parata

Relevant offers

National

Horowhenua mayor calls the law an 'ass' as he tries to reinstate ousted deputy Aggressive prosecution focus at MSD preceded woman's death, inquest told Court decision overturned regarding $2m insurance payout following wife's murder Car ends up in stream Young Petone rower smashes indoor world record Clutha District Council funds first house in Kaitangata Land House Package scheme A burning car in the Bay of Plenty Burst water main causes Auckland's Mt Wellington Highway to partially collapse, lane back open Justice Minister Amy Adams rejects calls for abortion reform Snakes and ladders with Bill English: Who climbs the Beehive's steps and who will take a tumble?

A High Court ruling that claims special-needs girls risk sexual and physical abuse if moved to a Christchurch boys' school has been criticised by their proposed new school.

The High Court's findings, released on Tuesday, said Education Minister Hekia Parata's plans to move girls from Salisbury School in Nelson to Halswell Residential College in Christchurch were unlawful.

Justice Dobson said the move disregarded "the prospect of greater risk of sexual or physical abuse" to the girls if they shifted to a co-educational special-needs school.

However, board chairman Simon Buckland said yesterday that the college had robust systems to ensure pupils' safety, including monitoring sleeping arrangements and excluding pupils with adverse sexual behaviour from enrolling.

"The information that is now being portrayed in the media and that was recently presented at the High Court is misleading and vague and is not a reflection of safety at Halswell Residential College," he said.

"A safe learning and living environment is a priority for this board and the staff."

The board had welcomed Parata's preliminary decision in August to retain a national co-ed residential school for pupils with intellectual difficulties.

Salisbury School's board and parents strongly opposed the move, welcoming the result of the judicial review.

"To date, the board has been respectful of the path Salisbury has chosen to take," Buckland said.

"However, we can no longer remain silent in view of the unfounded comments bringing Halswell Residential College, its staff, current and past students and family/whanau into disrepute.

"We strongly urge a respectful dialogue that regards the achievements and successful outcomes for the many past and present learners, staff and community of our school."

He said the school had run a co-ed satellite class for four years and had had some female pupils since the February 2011 earthquake.

Parata said yesterday she would "carefully consider" the High Court decision, and ruled out appealing it.

Ad Feedback

- The Press

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content