Rotary Park School to close

Rotary Park School entrance in McKerrow St, Highcliff. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
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 surprise.

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 school.

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 closure.

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.


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