Girls' High Board of Trustees statement

Last updated 16:47 26/11/2012
James Margaritis
JAMES MARGARITIS: The former Christchurch Girls' High School board of trustees chairman.

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The Christchurch Girls' High School Board of Trustees has issued a statement in the wake of the Employment Relations Authority decision to grant principal Prue Taylor an interim reinstatement. Below is the board's statement in full.

The Christchurch Girls' High School Board of Trustees (Board) recognises the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) decision and will cooperate fully in meeting the conditions of the interim reinstatement, as set-out in the published determination of the authority which was leaked on Friday 23 November, in advance of the ERA release of the determination which was planned for Monday 26 November.

In the determination, the Board has been given the responsibility to manage the timing of Mrs Taylor's interim reinstatement and the Board is working with the Ministry of Education to identify what support can be provided to ensure that this is done without delay and with care.

We expect to have an agreed proposed date which we can discuss with Mrs Taylor very soon.

Notwithstanding the decision of the ERA to grant Mrs Taylor interim reinstatement, the Board are still very concerned about the need to fulfil their statutory obligations to maintain the safety and wellbeing of all people in the school.

The Board believes that these issues would be exacerbated by the reinstatement of Mrs Taylor which is why the Board opposed this action.

In this regard, it should be noted that in response to the issues identified in the August ERO report in particular, and subsequent events, statements etc, the Ministry of Education wrote to the Board on Tuesday, 20 November (the day before the investigation meeting) and said, inter alia

The risks that the Ministry wished to be addressed through the Action Plan have been addressed by the principal's termination, and therefore the content of the Action Plan is no longer relevant.

As such, the Ministry considers that there is no longer any need for the Board to pursue the actions listed in the Plan that was submitted to the Ministry at the end of September, nor to report to the Ministry on progress towards those actions.

It is extremely important to clarify to you that the Ministry is monitoring the situation closely, and will intervene again as necessary.

If the principal is reinstated, the Ministry's view is that the level of risk would escalate to the extent that the Ministry would immediately recommend that the Minister consider intervention under section 78M, with a Limited Statutory Manager in the area of Employment

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The Board rejects the many unsubstantiated assertions and innuendo made by Mr Harrison, Mrs Taylor's legal representative. In addition there have been a number of statements made publicly to which the Board also takes exception.

These will be vigorously challenged in the Substantive Meeting which is set-down for early February 2013.

The ERA investigation meeting to consider the application for interim reinstatement, which was held on Wednesday 21 November, involved the consideration of legal submissions on untested evidence.

The Board looks forward to that evidence being considered and tested in the substantive meeting in February.

In the investigation meeting last Wednesday, as required the Board responded to the Applicant's submission as it was only focused on the application for interim reinstatement and so the Board had a limited opportunity to present material as part of its submission.

The substantive investigation in February will examine all issues and we are very confident that the reasons for our serious concerns will become evident at that time.

It must be restated that the Board alone made the decision to terminate Mrs Taylor's employment.

Other than Mrs Taylor and her legal representative, no other parties were advised or consulted before the decision was made - contrary to the scurrilous statements which have been made by Mr Harrison and by others and which have appeared in the media, that implicate the school's Senior Management Team members and/or the Acland House management team in the decision.

The Board continues to have full confidence in the senior management team and the Acland House management team to carry-out their responsibilities in a very competent and professional manner.

The Board has been widely criticised for not communicating adequately throughout this process and for not 'consulting' with parents, staff and even students. The Board has seen the need to maintain a high level of confidentiality throughout the process as this is clearly a very sensitive employment matter and also, so as not to prejudice a fair hearing.

The fact that other parties have been prepared to break accepted and required confidentiality for personal gain and advantage is, in our opinion, unethical and reprehensible.

The Board has also been criticised for the decision to terminate Mrs Taylor's employment at this time of year.

The Board was fully aware of the implications of such a decision at this time of the school year, but the Board still believes that the issues and risks which were identified in the ERO report and by others warranted that the action be taken without delay.

The reasons for our action will become evident at the time of the substantive investigation in February.

- The Press

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