A Christchurch school is taking the Government to court today
in a legal battle against its closure.
Phillipstown School was told by Education Minister Hekia
Parata that it will close and merge with nearby Woolston
School next year.
The move came as part of the Government's education shake-up
of post-quake Christchurch.
The ministry said the school suffered quake damage and it
made sense to merge its small roll of 163 with another small
But the decision caused mass upset with pupils, teachers, and
Its board of trustees says the low-decile school forms an
integral part of the local community, and the safety and
wellbeing of many children is at risk if the merger goes
ahead as planned in January.
The school has today launched its legal battle.
It is seeking a judicial review at the High Court in
Christchurch, arguing that several aspects of the closure are
in breach of the Education Act.
Lawyers for the school will argue the process was flawed and
that essential information was not made unavailable to them,
or it was misleading or missing.
The case, before Justice John Fogarty, is set down for two
Principal Tony Simpson said he never thought it would ever
make it to court.
"It's a sad day for us, that it's come to this. But we owe it
to our children.
"I honestly thought the consultation would be genuine and
that the facts would be stacked on the table, but no.
"It's been very difficult, but the work has been done. Full
credit to our legal team, they've been working day and night
Dozens of parents and pupils have shown up at court today for
Mum-of-four, Claire Hall has two children at the school, and
two more who want to go there in the next two years.
But if the school is closed, she's decided that she'll pull
them out of the mainstream education system and school them
at home instead.
"They will not be going to a big school," the 27-year-old
"Phillipstown is such a great school. With roadworks, it's a
25-minute drive every day to get them to school, but it's a
choice we've made.
"The principal knows all their names, they can pop in and see
him whenever they want. That doesn't happen at a big school."
- Kurt Bayer of APNZ