Ministry of Education steps in for Wakatipu High ‘issues’

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Wakatipu High will this month have a Ministry of Education-appointed official to sort out “serious” issues with senior management.

Christchurch employment lawyer Peter MacDonald will spend about four weeks working at the school as a “limited statutory manager” after the board of trustees asked the MoE to step in.

The Education Review Office (ERO) delivered a damning report of senior management and principal Lyn Cooper in March – saying they “mismanaged” major curriculum changes and created “unnecessary division and lack of trust” amongst fellow staff.

The ERO paper gave a glowing review of teaching at the school.

Board chairman Alistair Nicholson says the limited statutory manager is the middle of three levels of statutory intervention – one below a commissioner.

“ERO said that what is happening at the coalface with kids is fantastic. But they felt there were issues around the senior management of the school which threatened the ongoing sustainability of the great work that the teachers were doing at the coal face,” Nicholson says.

MacDonald will focus on employment issues while the board continues to manage the rest of the school.

Nicholson can’t say whether any member of staff could be stood down as a result of MacDonald’s investigation.

“At this particular stage it’s way beyond my ability to comment on where we are with that. He’s empowered to find a solution for us to these issues.”

Nicholson says he can’t speak for staff but “The feedback I’ve had is they’re welcoming the fact that we’re moving towards a resolution”.