Peggy Burrows dismissed: an injustice of unprecedented proportions is unfolding

The following is why a principal has been dismissed from her position as principal of a high school:

  • The release of confidential documents or assisting others to release confidential documents to the media.
  • Accessing her computer when ordered not to.

So it is construed as Gross Misconduct when a principal opens her laptop – and this is all substantiated by forensic examination – simply to check that her Canterbury PhD field work on the education of Maori students was there at its most recent date. The principal knew there were valid confidential issues around data held on the computer and was, of course, entirely respectful of that. This is not John le Carre – or shouldn’t be.

  • Presenting a signature for Board Minutes that she knew were incorrect.

(As a fuller example of the absurdity of the trumped up nature of the whole process, readers should note the following example carefully.) The principal did not do anything with the board minutes.

The actual board secretary was away on sick leave and a temporary one stood in.  The principal, having been absent, was then provided the minutes by the actual board secretary when she returned.  The principal didn’t alter them as she wasn’t at the meeting.

The principal was never responsible for producing minutes.  She always passed on the minutes to the chair which then went out to board members for checking to be formalised at the meeting and ratified.  But there was no board to send them to for checking. The principal then passed them to the commissioner informing her they were inaccurate as a result of the circumstances that had occurred. Amazingly and tellingly as a powerful example of bad faith and unreasonableness, the commissioner accused the principal of altering them. This despite being typed on the secretary’s password protected laptop at a time when principal was out of the country at a PENN conference.

Please note, not one reason was given as to why action was taken against the principal in the first place.

The following was written well before the Rangiora scandal:

The Kafkan power of the intervention process is such that there is rarely a genuine problem beyond that manufactured by the intervention process itself, meaning that those complaining only need to keep complaining for the intervention process to produce the Kafkan situation of irrationality so deviously favourable to their ends. Once the intervention is in place, the question becomes not what the problem was but whether the principal is perfect in every respect? And the principal, no matter how insignificant the imperfection revealed or how irrelevant to the initial ‘problem’, is always caught out, and much is made of that, and is a goner. After all, those making the judgement are those arrayed against the principal from the beginning. It seems the advice given by a character in Kafka should have been heeded: ‘The only right thing to do was to come to terms with the circumstances as they were.’ As such principals should ready themselves to have their vocations made to die ‘Like a dog!’ with the shame to outlive them.

  • No confidential documents were released to the media; one’s embarrassing to the government, yes, but not confidential.
  • The so-called accessing the computer is wrong in fact.
  • Regarding the minutes: the usual minuter was absent, and the minutes were misspelt and ungrammatical, so the principal tidied them up, retaining the original minutes, which are still available.

But the question remains: Why was action taken against the principal in the first place?

And a related question: Is it normal to take action against a principal for no reason?

Also related: What is the government trying to hide by furthering the action?

Remember the swirl of rumours that somehow found their way to the media – nothing beside remains except an injustice of unprecedented proportions.

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6 Responses to Peggy Burrows dismissed: an injustice of unprecedented proportions is unfolding

  1. Sue McIntosh says:

    absolutely disgusted by this, but not at all surprised. NZ Education, take a look at yourself, before you face a crisis in recruiting good and honest leaders.

    • Pat Newman says:

      Its not NZ Education that needs to look at itself. At the moment (been going on for a few years now) we in NZ Education are in the middle of basically a political and ideological war. One one side lead by our political masters is a drive for control of the profession to measure, to assign blame, to deride those teaching so we have a subservient profession.
      On the other hand some of us still hold fast to the belief that our students are paramount, that there needs are paramount and that wwe have a professional and moral responsibility to stand up for their needs, no matter what. Our Code of Ethics which is to be replaced by a Code of Conduct states clearly we have a duty to the needs of our students above and beyond all else.

      There is of course a cost. Look at those who really stood up against Nat Stds for instance and how many were removpved for strange reasons since then…. But I am part of NZ Education. I just dont want to be lumped in with those who I despise!

  2. Kelvin says:

    An Auckland educationist writes: Also consider the impact of intervention itself on the individual’s capacity to operate! So distracting, upsetting normal operations, undermining and disruptive.

  3. Kelly-Ned says:

    Are any of us safe?
    Peggy has been a highly acclaimed principal. Makes me nervous!

  4. Kelly-Ned says:

    When you combine this with the recent financial threats around new H&S legislation it does make you wonder why we take the risk and do the job……

  5. Phil T says:

    Fairfax has put out an interesting press release today. Several reasons why she has been fired but talks about her being bound by confidentiality issues. Disgraceful.
    She will win a PG but it will take time and it will be financial rather than look to return her to her position.
    With all the talk of accountability today around such things as H&S etc they should make some of these overpaid commissioners accountable for these types of decisions and if they get it wrong they have to front with the settlement. That would change the hiding behind massive funds to run agendas

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