Rotary Park School entrance in McKerrow St, Highcliff.
Photo by Gregor Richardson.
A decision by Minister of Education Hekia Parata to close
Dunedin's Rotary Park School at the end of this year was
relayed to school officials yesterday, catching them by
Although no official announcement has been made by the
Ministry of Education, a letter was sent from Ms Parata to
Dunedin Labour MP Clare Curran late last week, informing her
of the closure.
"After considering all the information provided to me, I have
decided that Rotary Park School will close," Ms Parata said
in the letter.
"The closure will be gazetted shortly to take effect on
January 27, 2013."
The school was unaware of the decision until yesterday,
despite Ms Curran being told last week.
Commissioner Cleave Hay said because of postal delays, he did
not receive his copy of the letter until 1pm yesterday. The
school had to hastily prepare a newsletter to send home to
parents yesterday, he said.
The news came as a surprise to acting principal Jan Stevens
yesterday when the Otago Daily Times contacted the
A spokeswoman for Ms Parata, when asked yesterday why the
school had not been informed first, said the minister was
unavailable for comment.
Ms Curran contacted the ODT yesterday about the
The school's woes began last year when principal Carmel Casey
became the focus of allegations of incompetent teaching
practices. The situation came to a head when parents began
removing their children as a show of defiance over her return
to the school after six months' leave.
Ms Parata ordered a school community consultation process
after Mr Hay recommended the school be considered for closure
after its roll dropped from more than 60 to just 21. Only 10
pupils had been expected to return next year.
Ms Curran said it was disappointing a school of its calibre
was to be closed, because the minister and the ministry had
allowed an internal dispute to destroy its reputation.