Teacher tried to talk to chairmen

Graham Kitchin
Graham Kitchin
A Waitaki Boys' High School head of department teacher tried to talk to two separate boards of trustees chairmen about issues within the school before she left at the end of last year.

Priscilla Hay taught at the school for 10 years, including four years as head of science, and first raised her concerns over management and administration at the school in mid-2012, and again when she left after obtaining a lesser role as a long-term relieving teacher in Tauranga in November.

''I tried to get out from mid-2012,'' she said, because of issues within the school.

She believed she was not the only teacher at the school unhappy with management. In 2012, Mrs Hay phoned then-board chairman Bill Wright to speak about the issues.

''I was speaking with him on the phone and asked if he wanted to know what was happening in the school. He said he was hoping it wasn't his problem,'' she said.

At the end of last year, leaving to go to a new job, she wanted an ''exit interview'' with new board chairman Garry McLeod, again to discuss issues.

''I wanted to give a heads up on things as I saw them,'' she said.

After a number of phone calls, then an email, Mr McLeod told her he had consulted the New Zealand School Trustees' Association which had told him staff management was the responsibility of the rector (Paul Jackson) and those issues should be raised with him.

Mrs Hay said she did not specifically talk about the issues she had, but Mr McLeod would have been aware they existed.

Mr McLeod said in the Otago Daily Times on Saturday the board was not aware of issues that had been raised with the Ministry of Education.

Mrs Hay was one of those who had written to the ministry, along with another former teacher, Graham Kitchin, who had retired early because of the same issues. This week the board is meeting to consider those comments, and complaints, some verbal and some written, raised by 17 people with the ministry.

It is also dealing with a serious incident involving a senior staff member who has been stood down.

Mr McLeod would not directly comment on Mrs Hay's comments.

However, he said that, in general terms, it was not the board's role to become involved in management issues and he would refer anyone who raised those to the rector.

Having sought advice from the trustees' association last year, Mr McLeod said the board's role was governance; it was not a teacher's employer nor could it direct teachers.

''We have to follow correct procedures. If we do not, then we could find ourselves in an employment dispute,'' he said.

Mr Wright did not respond to messages left on his phone yesterday.

- david.bruce@odt.co.nz