Judge reserves decision over school merger

Date published: July 4, 2012 at 9:45 am | Comments

A High Court judge has reserved his decision over whether the right legal process was followed when the decision was made to merge a Kawerau intermediate and college.

Kawerau Intermediate School’s board of trustees is challenging a government plan in the High Court at Rotorua to close the school and force it to merge with the town’s college.

It fears that their “lovely little school” will be lost if it joins forces with Kawerau College.

In his closing statement on Monday afternoon, Justice Mark Woolford said his findings would be released as soon as possible.

He said the government’s decision to close the intermediate was not a reflection on the school.

Counsel for the school’s board, Mark Hammond, has claimed the college is a breeding ground for gangs, has a high suicide rate, that the number of teenage pregnancies there are the country’s highest and bullying is a major problem.

He has also claimed that because of the number of students being beaten up in the school’s toilets these are now open-sided.

He says the college is run by two statutory managers while the intermediate has a dedicated principal, a sound group of teachers and a highly-engaged board of trustees.

It has also received an excellent Education Review Office report.

Mr Hammond told Justice Mark Woolford the decision to merge the two schools was made by Education Minister Hekea Parata a day after she took office.

He says her move was at odds with her predecessor Anne Tolley who favoured a merger, but with separated schools for the different age groups on the one site.

After strong opposition to the merger from the Kawerau community, the intermediate’s principal Daryl Aim led a protest hikoi to Wellington in May last year.

Crown lawyer Joanna Holden said the ministry’s decision to close the school was made on the basis of what would be best for future generations in the area.

Source: msn.nz