Commissioner silent on board's resignation
LIBBY WILSON AND AARON LEAMAN
Some parents of children at Silverdale Normal School are demanding answers about why a commissioner has been brought in to the school.
Commissioner Richard Clarke yesterday suggested relationship breakdowns within the school and communication had been an issue.
Clarke was appointed to the school on July 31, to replace a board of trustees which had resigned en masse.
Earlier this week principal Lynne Holder announced her plan to retire.
Clarke is looking at how to get the school back to self-governance but information on the problem remains scarce.
"It doesn't really, truly serve a purpose where we are . . . What serves a purpose is for me to discover how we can strengthen that school," Clarke said.
"If there was something absolutely ghastly it would be showing . . . I've had some challenging roles in my past experiences. This is challenging only in the sense that I need to be the glue to help people come together."
Clarke said there seemed to have been relationship, communication and transparency issues at the school. There were not financial issues, he said.
But parent Kristee Jones was "definitely" looking for more information.
Her 6-year-old daughter Astar had started refusing to go to school, making her worry about the environment.
"Until the commissioner was assigned and the latest news about Mrs Holder resigning, I had actually looked into moving my daughter out of that school. So it was pretty bad. And still with the unknown it's still a bit shaky ground. But I believe that there is movement and change about and that it could be worth keeping my daughter at the school."
A group of around six parents of her daughter's friends were also looking at other schools, so Clarke's newsletters were welcomed.
"They just seemed like ‘OK, here's Superman going to save our school'."
Yet Kyley Gray has two children "doing great" at the school and felt parents knew what they needed to.
"The board resigned, and so the commissioner had to step in . . . It seemed to make sense to me," she said.
"The commissioner sounds like he's got things in hand. We're basically thinking that the school has done right by our kids up until now and we look forward to even better things."
Another parent, who declined to be named, said the board of trustees' resignation was unfortunate and could affect the school's reputation.
"I'm also sad that Mrs Holder felt she had to resign because she has feelings like everyone else and it's not great to see things get to this point."
However the woman's 5-year-old son continued to enjoy school and was progressing well.
Another parent said Clarke did a good job putting parents' concerns at ease and believed the resignation of Holder was "timely".
The Ministry of Education said Clarke was appointed because the resignation of the board of trustees was an operational risk to the school.
"There was no longer anyone eligible to preside at meetings of the school board," head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said.
The majority of trustees who resigned were elected in 2013 but one new trustee was appointed in a by-election held in June this year.
After Clarke shared his view of how the school should move forward at meetings with parents and caregivers on Tuesday he received a flood of supportive emails, he said.
More change is ahead with principal Lynne Holder's retirement.
Holder said it was her decision and she was of retirement age, but did not wish to comment further.
Clarke said it was an employment matter which Holder would be "ill-advised" to discuss with media.
Further hui in about three weeks will update parents on the next steps.
- Waikato Times