Displaced pupils don't have new schools yet

Former McKenzie Residential School pupils still do not have a school to go to, just weeks before the term begins.

And Salisbury Residential School fears the Ministry of Education will not fund it past this year, despite winning a High Court ruling that it could remain open.

McKenzie Residential School in Yaldhurst was closed by the ministry last month in favour of an intensive wrap-around service that will see pupils placed in mainstream classrooms.

Salisbury, in Richmond, Nelson, successfully challenged its closure in the High Court, which found that closing the school and placing pupils in a co-educational facility at Halswell School in Christchurch was unlawful and did not take into account the girls' safety.

Salisbury board chairwoman Helen McDonnell said this year was merely a "stay of execution".

The ministry could still close the school at the end of the year, she said.

"We have only got the OK for 2013," she said.

"People think the battle has been won. We can't rest on our laurels. We are prepared to continue to fight."

Despite fears for the future, ensuring the school would open this year had brought a "tremendous" sense of relief to parents and pupils.

Twenty-one pupils will return on February 7.

A ministry spokesperson said Education Minister Hekia Parata "will consider issues raised by the judicial review before reconsidering her decision about the future of the school".

McKenzie principal Greg Healy is concerned that there are still two or three boys yet to be enrolled in a mainstream school.

Healy and school staff worked hard to create transition plans for all 26 pupils before the school closed last month. Five pupils left without a completed plan.

Josie Woodfield has so far been unsuccessful in enrolling 9-year-old foster son Kendall in school.

Based in North Canterbury, Woodfield has struggled to find a suitable school that is within commuting distance.

She does not want to send Kendall back to Oxford School, where he was enrolled before attending McKenzie last year.

"He can go back to Oxford but I don't want him back there," she said.

Woodend School was happy to enroll Kendall but Woodfield has reservations about the 90-minute round trip.

Their preferred school, Cust, has a full roll.

However, the ministry has indicated it might offer Cust a directive that would mean it could make an exception and enroll Kendall, Woodfield said.

The Press