Commissioner for Totara School

Cleave Hay. Photo: supplied
Cleave Hay. Photo: supplied
A North Otago primary school is now under the control of a Ministry of Education-appointed commissioner.

Totara School has been struggling to remedy issues around relational trust, governance and management relationships, communication breakdowns and pupils leaving.

The ministry initially appointed Cleave Hay as a limited statutory manager (LSM) in March this year, to take control of the school’s board of trustees’ operations and manage risks to the operation of Totara School.

However, five board members resigned in May.

That left only the principal, Sandra Spekreijse, and a staff-elected member on the board.

The ministry has had to increase its level of intervention at the school by reappointing Mr Hay as commissioner.

As LSM of Totara School,  Mr Hay controls all functions, powers and duties of the board, as an employer, to establish policies and procedures, and to manage communications.

The board has retained its primary duty of care and responsibility for administering  rules around the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. 

Now the commissioner has been appointed, the board has been dissolved and the commissioner holds all the functions, powers and duties of the board he replaced.

Ministry of Education south leader Nancy Bell said every statutory intervention was done on a "case-by-case basis" and it was not unusual for an LSM to then be appointed as commissioner when required.

"They already understand and are working on the issues that need addressing.

"The aim of any intervention is always to return the school to full self-governance as soon as the recommendations and objectives of the intervention have been met," she said.

Mr Hay was unavailable for comment.