CGHS board pledges full co-operation

The board of trustees at Christchurch Girls' High School says it will fully co-operate with the conditions of Prue Taylor's interim reinstatement.

In a statement yesterday, the board ruled out appealing against the Employment Relations Authority's decision but said it would vigorously challenge "unsubstantiated assertions and innuendo" made by Taylor's lawyer Richard Harrison last week, at the full hearing in February.

At the interim hearing last week, Harrison said members of the school board turned up at Taylor's home with flowers and then suspended her, just days after she learnt of her husband's death in the CTV building after the February 22 earthquake.

She was told she was suspended on pay to "allow you time to grieve".

"It's just bizarre," Harrison said at the time.

He also said the board of trustees had conducted a "witch-hunt" against Taylor.

The authority report, released on Friday, identified failings by the board in its decision to dismiss Taylor. But the board said the hearing last week gave it a limited opportunity to present material as part of its submission and the February hearing would examine all issues.

"We are very confident that the reasons for our serious concerns will become evident at that time," the board said.

The board also acknowledged it has been "widely criticised" for not "communicating adequately" with staff, parents and students.

But it said it needed to "maintain a high level of confidentiality . . . 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 statement read.

The board, in its statement, also revealed that the Ministry of Education said if Taylor was reinstated, it would recommend putting a limited statutory manager in place at the school.

Chairman should quit - employment expert

Christchurch Girls' High School board chairman James Margaritis should resign, says an employment law specialist.

Kathryn Dalziel, a partner at Christchurch law firm Taylor Shaw, said an Employment Relations Authority decision to temporarily reinstate principal Prue Taylor showed Margaritis should step down.

The authority has ordered the board undertake urgent steps to smooth Taylor's reinstatement, including implementing a performance agreement setting out objectives the board required of Taylor during the next school year.

But Dalziel, who has a daughter at the school, questioned Margaritis' ability to manage that process, given the report had made it clear the relationship between Taylor and Margaritis had "seriously broken down and may well be irretrievable".

Margaritis did not respond to attempts by The Press to reach him on Sunday or yesterday.

Dalziel said Margaritis could resign only as chairman and remain on the board but he should excuse himself during discussions about Taylor's ongoing employment issues.

The authority said it was uncertain whether the relationship between Taylor and Margaritis could be repaired, but both should try.

The report also said there was evidence the board had already predetermined its view of Taylor's future at the school when it invited her to a disciplinary meeting.

But Dalziel did not want to see the entire board step down because a mass resignation would see a statutory manager appointed and she did not think that would be a good option.

The Press