Entire board resigns at troubled school

The entrance to Totara School. PHOTO: JULES CHIN
The entrance to Totara School. PHOTO: JULES CHIN
Totara School will soon have a commissioner appointed to it following the resignation of all its board members.

The five members resigned with immediate effect last week, leaving only principal Sandra Spekreijse and a staff-elected member on the board.

In January, the Ministry of Education appointed limited statutory manager Cleave Hay following what was then described as unspecified challenges at the school and three teacher resignations.

It emerged last month in a report delivered by Mr Hay that issues of relational trust, governance and management relationships, communication breakdowns and pupils leaving were risking the operation of the school.

The official report stated the board requested support following a breakdown in relationships between members of the community, staff, the board and the principal.

The school was funded for 72 pupils for this year. The roll was 58 on March 21 and the roll as of term 2 is 45.

A reducing roll and expressions of concern from whanau stakeholders needed further investigation to determine root causes and inform strategies to address them.

All four issues listed under "principal wellbeing and performance management", including the analysis of the severity and scope of those unnamed issues, were redacted in the report provided to the Otago Daily Times.

Ministry of Education South leader Nancy Bell said it was in the process of appointing a commissioner to the school who would hold all the functions, powers and duties of the board that they would replace.

The intervention and statutory support would be ongoing.

"The ministry monitors all school interventions closely.

"The aim of any intervention is always to return the school to full self management as soon as practical."

In a letter sent to parents yesterday, Mr Hay said he would be responsible for governance until the decision was formally made.

He was unavailable to comment.