CGHS board chief resigns after sacking outrage

TINA LAW
Last updated 05:00 28/11/2012
James Margaritis
JAMES MARGARITIS: The former Christchurch Girls' High School board of trustees chairman.

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The man partly responsible for the sacking of Christchurch Girls' High School principal Prue Taylor has quit his role as chairman of the school's board of trustees.

James Margaritis resigned as chairman on Monday after he and his family faced a barrage of personal attacks, fellow board member Tim Priddy told The Press last night. He would remain on the board until the election next May, the board said yesterday.

Taylor's November 2 sacking provoked outrage among some parents at the school. She has since been temporarily reinstated by the Employment Relations Authority.

On Monday, a group of parents demanded the entire board quit at a fiery meeting in the school's library. Margaritis did not attend but that night he told the board he was stepping down.

Priddy said Margaritis's decision was partly down to the "pretty nasty stuff" his family has endured since Taylor was dismissed. He said Margaritis's car had been vandalised and his family endured verbal attacks.

"He has got two daughters sitting NCEA exams at the moment and it's somewhat stressful for them as well.

"He does not want it to get to the point where they're scared to be home or where they are scared to go to their exams.

"He's under quite a lot of pressure."

Taylor's lawyer, Richard Harrison, told an Employment Relations Authority hearing last week there was a "strong connection" between Taylor's dismissal and Margaritis's daughter being stood down by the school just weeks before.

Priddy said this was a serious breach of confidentiality.

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

In its findings, the authority said the relationship between Taylor and Margaritis had "seriously broken down and may well be irretrievable".

It said their relationship did impose an impediment to Taylor's reinstatement.

Priddy said Margaritis's decision was also influenced by a wish to give maximum opportunity for Taylor's interim reinstatement to work effectively. The board accepted Margaritis's decision with regret, he said. His deputy, Robyn Burgess, would be acting chairwoman until May.

When asked if Margaritis would excuse himself from discussions about Taylor, Priddy said if a limited statutory manager was appointed, which the Education Ministry had indicated, then that manager would deal with all employment issues.

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In a letter to the board last week, the ministry said it would recommend the appointment of a limited statutory manager if Taylor was reinstated.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has to approve the appointment of a limited statutory manager, but yesterday her spokeswoman said she had not received any advice from the ministry on the matter.

Parent Mark Smith, who called for board members unable to work with Taylor to resign, said he welcomed the change in leadership if it meant the board would now co-operate with Taylor.

Priddy did not think any other board member was considering resigning and he was planning to remain until next year's elections.

Taylor said last night Margaritis's resignation as chairman would not make any difference to helping her transition back into the school.

"The same people are still there. I don't think it will make any difference to the board itself."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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