Parents slam confusion over school

Last updated 08:46 28/06/2014
st francis of assisi catholic school
DANIEL TOBIN/ Fairfax NZ
DELIVING A MESSAGE: Pupils cast their eye over a sign promoting the new St Francis of Assisi Catholic School, the consultation for which has confused parents.

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Parents at a school marked for closure say a flawed consultation process led them to believe there was last-minute hope.

Controversial plans to close Our Lady of Fatima and St Paul's schools and open a new 495-pupil school on the latter's Innes Rd site have been in the public domain since last year.

However, parents spoken to by The Press say they were led to believe Ministry of Education consultation might give Our Lady of Fatima a reprieve.

Yesterday, those behind the project unveiled a billboard promoting the new development, St Francis of Assisi Catholic School, at Our Lady of Fatima.

"It's a terrible thing," said Glenys Orange, who has three children at the school.

"You can't have all these teachers losing their jobs and advertise it like this when it's still under consultation."

After a long period of consultation, the Catholic parish in Mairehau failed to come to a consensus around the future of the schools so Bishop Barry Jones was forced to make the final call.

The Ministry of Education is carrying out its own consultation, which does not finish until July 18. This will determine when the new school opens - either at the start of term 3 in 2015 or the start of term 1 in 2016.

Parent Tracey Chambers said there had been confusion about what the consultation entailed.

"We are meant to be a Catholic family but in our view they wanted this to happen and have railroaded both communities. The way they have treated the families and the children, you have to question the Catholic values," she said.

Catholic Education Office chief executive Mike Nolan said the plans had been public since September last year.

He was surprised by the confusion because there had been information on both school websites for many months.

"All that stuff was there from day one," Nolan said.

St Paul's in Dallington was damaged in the earthquakes and became the only red-zoned school in the city.

Another Our Lady of Fatima parent said "the whole thing had been handled very badly".

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