No comment from WBHS board after Commissioner appointed

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Members of the Waitaki Boys’ High School board of trustees have gone silent following the appointment of a commissioner to take their place during a meeting with the Ministry of Education on Monday night.

The decision to appoint a commissioner, who is expected to be names next week, follows a lack of confidence in the governance of the school by the Ministry.

Former board of trustees chairman Garry McLeod said any decisions that were made were for the benefit of the school.

When asked whether he had failed in his role, he said he was no longer on the board and could not comment.

He was also unwilling to comment on the rector, Paul Jackson’s role in the situation at the school.

Former board member Phil Hope said he would not comment on the result of the meeting as it was not appropriate.

Other board members who had stood down following the meeting – Roger Staples, Maree Thompson, Nigel de la Forde and Amanda Dennis – were unavailable for comment.

Attempts made by the Oamaru Mail yesterday to contact Mr Jackson were also unsuccessful.

The independent report completed by Cleave Hay in June painted a damning picture of management at the school as well as the board stating that many members of staff had no faith in the board and it “swept most issues under the carpet”.

A large number of people interviewed by Mr Hay also said they would not approach the board because they felt they were not trustworthy, “in the rector’s pocket” and compromised.

Ministry of Education deputy secretary of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said thye decided to appoint a Commissioner so that serious issues could be resolved as soon as possible.

“We advised the board of trustees of our decision at last night’s meeting and welcome their decision to stand down.”

The Commissioner will assume all the powers and functions of the board and will have full responsibility for school governance.

They will work with the school management team, staff and community to support the school to return to effective, sustainable self-governance as soon as possible.

The Commissioner will be responsible for addressing the issues that were raised in the independent reports and the length of the intervention will depend on the complexity of the issues to be addressed.

“Boards are responsible for managing schools and we don’t intervene lightly.

“We gave the board time to take action to restore confidence in the school.

“The reports produced by Cleave Hay, ERO, and Mike Corkery and Alan McLay have all concluded that without significant external support the board is not capable of addressing the identified governance and management issues.”

The ministry will only intervene in schools if there is a risk to the operation of the school, student management or student welfare and safety.

“There are approximately 2,500 schools in New Zealand and the vast majority operate successfully, but a small number develop difficulties that they cannot resolve without outside help.

“In the first instance we always support schools to resolve problems themselves and only intervene as a last resort.”

Serious concerns were raised by the ministry about the administration and management of the school during a meeting in May.

PHOTO: The Ministry of Education has appointed a Commissioner at Waitaki Boys’ High School so that serious issues can be resolved as soon as possible.