School chairman resigns

The chairman of the Wanaka Primary School's board of trustees has resigned, citing his concern over the way the school has dealt with complaints from parents.

In a resignation letter to his fellow board members on December 10, chairman Richard Cubie said over ''the past weeks'' the board had had to deal with a series of ''complex and contentious issues''.

''I believe some parents who have raised ongoing concerns or complaints have been treated in a way as to impugn their integrity as parents. There has been a refusal to work in a conciliatory, empowering way, with continuing support for them.''

Mr Cubie would not discuss the issues with the Otago Daily Times. His letter, a copy of which was delivered to the ODT on Monday, says he had 35 years' experience in the British education service and had not previously encountered such a ''situation''.

''It is not within my experience in education to have encountered a whole school community being held to ransom with: threats made to the board of trustees; the withholding from the board of trustees essential public information; the deliberate destabilisation, by intervention, of the governance work and responsibilities of the board of trustees.''

Mr Cubie referred to problems arising after a letter sent to the board on October 29.

He considered a ''significant number'' of parents had been disenfranchised from their ''rights to express their ongoing concerns''. Mr Cubie said his position was untenable.

''The best interests of the children and the work of this exceptional teaching staff will not be served by continuing to hold this office.''

Although resigning as chairman, Mr Cubie will remain on the board.

Responding to ODT inquiries this week, Ministry of Education head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said in a statement the ministry had been approached for support by the school's board.

''As a result, we are providing governance training to the board through an external facilitator. We have also met with the board to discuss what additional support may be required.''

Ms Casey said the ministry was not carrying out an investigation of any kind.

School principal Dr Wendy Bamford would not discuss the matter with the ODT this week.

The school has a roll of 530.

mark.price@odt.co.nz