Fairfield board quits

The only way forward for a troubled Hamilton college is for the trustees to resign, they say.

BY REBECCA HARPER
Last updated 15:53 02/03/2009

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The Fairfield College board of trustees say they acted in the best interests of the school by resigning.

The board quit yesterday and the Ministry of Education will appoint a commissioner to replace them, although it is so far unclear who that will be.

Board deputy chairperson Rodney Hartles last night said it had made the "appropriate decision in the best interests of the school going forward".

"We wanted to improve the outcomes for those kids and the only way forward was to up the level of intervention in the school ... we took the ultimate step and ... resigned."

The board would release a more detailed statement later, probably early next week.

Ministry of Education spokesman Gillon Carruthers said the Secretary for Education would appoint a commissioner as soon as possible. Dennis Finn, a special adviser appointed to the school by the ministry in late December, said he would "wait and see on Monday" whether he stayed on at the school.

He said the decision to resign was the board's own, and principal Julie Small was "absolutely" still at the school.

The state co-educational Hamilton secondary school experienced a tumultuous end to 2008, with 80 per cent of PPTA staff members voting no confidence in the principal, the senior leadership team and the board.

At the time Mrs Small told the Waikato Times she was committed to raising academic achievement at the school.

But teachers said they worked incredibly hard and felt their professionalism was constantly being undermined and challenged.

Earlier this week about 200 people attended an emotional community hui at the school's marae to express concerns over the achievement of Maori students and management of the school.

On Thursday a student strike over the issues at the school turned heated as a teacher clashed with television cameras trying to film students.

The PPTA, which represents the majority of the teachers at the school, was unavailable for comment on the latest development last night.

 

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