Girls' High stand-in tries to restore calm

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 07/11/2012
Prue Taylor
John Kirk-Anderson

SACKED: Prue Taylor.

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The man now leading Christchurch Girls' High School is working hard to ensure normality is restored after outrage over the sacking of principal Prue Taylor.

Peter Sawyer, the school's deputy principal since 2008, was appointed acting principal on Friday after Taylor was fired by the board of trustees.

The decision to sack Taylor has outraged pupils, parents and many colleagues, including Dame Dawn Lamb, who was principal for 12 years before Taylor was appointed.

Some year 13 pupils, who are due to finish school this week to prepare for exams, said losing their principal had "ruined the last week of high school".

Sawyer said yesterday that he was trying to ensure it was "business as usual" for the girls in the lead-up to the end of the year and he wanted to make sure the school's traditions were maintained.

The school had told pupils that guidance counsellors were available, he said.

Sawyer, who also teaches physical education, said his new position had its challenges and he was unsure how long he would be in it.

Lamb, who lives in Wellington, said that when Taylor was appointed she was "the best applicant by far" .

Lamb described Taylor as  "a courageous and admirable person with considerable personal integrity".

"I find it difficult to see how the judicial process the Christchurch Girls' High School board has embarked on can result in the school being a winner."

Parents of pupils and of the more than 300 girls who had applied for the 2013 intake could have lost any sense of security in their choice of school, she said.

"The tragedy is that there can't be any winners," Lamb said.

The board has refused to say why Taylor was sacked other than saying there had been "issues and tensions" between Taylor and the board for a long period.

It said a wide range of "stakeholder groups" had expressed "issues of concern" with Taylor since 2009.

The board would say only that the groups were "a range of school-related groups who have direct contact" with Taylor.

Taylor said this week that she could not specify what had been the catalyst for her dismissal.

She said there was no gross misconduct on her part and she did not bring the school into disrepute.

She has confirmed she will fight the decision.

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