Ministry to review its processes

Cleave Hay.
Cleave Hay.
The Ministry of Education will review its communication procedures after Rotary Park School was inadvertently informed of its closure before a ministry representative had had a chance to give official notification.

Rotary Park School commissioner Cleave Hay said it was his responsibility to notify the school of its closure, and he was angry and concerned it was done this week by someone other than himself.

While Dunedin MPs received letters of notification from Education Minister Hekia Parata last Friday, Mr Hay said he did not receive his copy of the letter until 1pm on Monday because of postal delays.

The news came out when Dunedin Labour MP ClareCurran called the Otago Daily Times this week to comment on the closure, assuming Mr Hay had already delivered the verdict.

The school was shocked when contacted by the ODT for comment because it had not been notified.

Mr Hay said the situation was devastating.

"I'm very disappointed because it was my role to announce the closure, and that was taken away from me.

"It made a harrowing situation worse for the school community. The commissioner should have been the first person to learn of the decision."

Mr Hay said the school was forced to hastily prepare a newsletter to send home to parents on Monday afternoon notifying them of the closure before they heard it from the media.

The manner of the notification also upset many parents and staff at the school.

"To find out about the school's closure from the ODT shows how much the teachers are valued by our ministry and their commissioner," a Rotary Park School community member said yesterday.

Ms Curran said Ms Parata needed to accept some responsibility for the blunder.

"The Government is not just penny-pinching. It treats schools and their communities with disregard and disdain.

"Hekia Parata does not do herself any credit by sending a letter which affects a whole community and not ensuring there is a proper process of support in place for that community.

"This has been a botch-up from start to finish."

Ms Parata said it was not her intention for Mr Hay to receive the letter later than the MPs.

"We have apologised to him and we will review our processes ..."

Ms Parata confirmed yesterday the school would be closed at the end of this year, and the decision was based on advice from Mr Hay.

"Rotary Park School's roll has declined significantly over the past five years, from 84 students in 2008 to just 21 students in 2012.

"Therefore, it is not sustainable to keep the school open."

Ms Parata said quality education was provided at neighbouring schools and some children in the Rotary Park School catchment were already enrolled in other schools.

"The Ministry of Education will work with the students and parents and help them enrol in other schools," she said.

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