Resignation called for over sex offender revelations

Catlins Area School principal Glenys Hanley. Photo: ODT files
Catlins Area School principal Glenys Hanley. Photo: ODT files
A parent from a beleaguered Catlins school says its principal must resign if staff and parental confidence is to be restored.

The mother, who did not wish to be named, said parents at the Catlins Area School remained in the dark regarding what, if any, steps were being taken to restore confidence following revelations last month principal Glenys Hanley’s husband, Simon Melville, was a convicted sex offender.

School authorities say the school takes child safety seriously, and that if parents have concerns there is a formal process for making a complaint.

The mother said after an anonymous email was sent to staff and parents detailing Mr Melville’s conviction for serious sexual offences in 2007, Ms Hanley, the school board and the Ministry of Education had reacted with "a blanket of silence".

"It just seems extraordinary to us as parents that such serious concerns have been raised regarding the access of Mr Melville to school grounds and about Ms Hanley’s judgement in this matter, that there’s been no attempt to reassure people or take any further action.

"We just feel extremely disappointed with the board, the school and the ministry, and I believe we’re seeing that reflected now in staff resignations.

"The school needs a new principal, if we’re to move on and keep this asset for our community."

The school had sent two letters since the story broke, one to ask people not to talk to media and a second to announce a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) appointment, she said.

LSM Kate Keddell confirmed on November 13 she had been appointed to help the school’s board of trustees with communications.

Ms Keddell said the board would remain in control of all other school management matters including employment, property, curriculum and health and safety.

The school took child safety matters seriously, she said.

"The school has policies and procedures in place that comply with Education and Training Act 2020, Health and Safety at Work Act 2014 and Children’s Act 2014 to keep children safe at school. [There is] a formal complaint process ... if parents have concerns."

There was no "investigative element" to her role as LSM and Ms Hanley remained employed by the school, Ms Keddell said.

One teacher had resigned since mid-October, to "[move] into promotion at another school".

A Ministry of Education spokeswoman said it would monitor Ms Keddell’s intervention at the school closely, and no date had been set for her departure.

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

In February 2007, Mr Melville attacked a 23-year-old female tourist in a Kaikoura camping block toilet with a knife.

The attack resulted in a conviction on one charge of attempted rape, three of sexual violation and assault with a weapon.