Out of nothing, injustice, psychological cruelty, gross actions, and immoral behaviour have occurred. It has been a display of deplorable human behaviour, and to the victim of that behaviour, a nightmare that plumbs the depths. One can also see portrayed how little we have done in response, how we have stood by, to some extent helpless in the face of the huge propaganda machine that is this agency of state.
The agitation of a few wanting to sell school assets with an inexplicable urgency when the majority of the Board didn’t caused a kerfuffle and a new Board was elected. But the minister, at the hearing of ‘assets’ – substantial assets, at that – became all ears and, knowing the school was facing a rebuild, decided to sack the board and appoint a commissioner. The commissioner, you see, would have the power to sell those assets without proper community assent. To slander the principal, financial irregularities were suggested but the finances were found to be in outstanding order; also suggested was going to a conference without leave – that had no substance.
But you see again, finding small matters, even if found, which weren’t anyway – would not justify within a million miles the horrors visited on the principal and the harm to the school.
Strangers to the community imposed themselves on a 136 year-old school two years ago; they sacked the board and the principal and intimidated staff and parents for a deliberate plan to strip the school of $12 million in assets for expenditure that is properly the responsibility of the government.
107 Kippenberger is up for auction. The stripping of assets has begun. The property forms part of the school’s asset portfolio and was always tagged, it needs to be said, as a property that could be sold if a Board found a special project. But what business is it of those strangers? It belongs to you.
One first has to ask, why after nearly two years, the school does not have a Board?
Why is a commissioner not a Board making decisions on behalf of the community over community assets?
Why has there been no public consultation over the disposal of this asset?
Why has there been no Strategic Plan for property and asset management published?
Why has there been no information around the role of the ministry in the appropriation of the school’s assets?
Are the moneys to be directed into the school’s Operations Grant to balance the annual budget? If so then High School Reserves (protected under the Education Lands Act 1949) are being misappropriated.
If the annual budget is seriously out of whack through wasteful expenditure by the commissioner, and or on the commissioner (which will eventually prove to be undeniable), why hasn’t an investigation been ordered and a report made to the community?
Are the moneys to be misappropriated in another way: buildings and a safe environment being paid for by the community when that function is properly the responsibility of the ministry?
AND THIS A DEMOCRACY WE LIVE IN? The only person who can put a caveat on the property to protect the proper status of that property is the person who owns it – that is the Board as the Board is the legal entity. But who has all the rights and powers of the Board at the moment but the commissioner – how convenient is that (ironically)?
What we have here is theft by agency of state. When in a select committee, a high ministry official, followed by the secretary of education, were asked about this selling of assets: the first said no and the second said we don’t know. What do you think about that? Behind all this are the legal procedures occurring between the ministry and the principal. I think one factor is the minister saying, those people who wanted to sell the assets were right, and the principal was wrong, just watch me do it. Also, the minister has recently lost a number of other cases of misuse of commissioners, if she loses the Rangiora one, she could be out. She is throwing everything at this.
Her job is at stake.
Which brings me to my final point: ERO has notified it will be reviewing the school in July – in illegal case after case, ERO has been shown to work glove-in-hand with the minister – after all she is the head of ERO. So we should be prepared for more mischief. But it will be mischief against the glowing ERO report for the principal and school of three years ago.