Parents, teachers, and community of Rangiora High school get a load of this

Parents, teachers, and community of Rangiora High school get a load of this: I want to put first the latest in the series of vicious ministry-commissioner actions against Peggy Burrows

The commissioner has put the ERA decision on the school website, but so far, only the first bit. 

And the ministry has refused to release the Specialist Adviser’s report the present commissioner wrote even though there is huge public interest in the contents. This document is pernicious and would be fatal to the ministry’s case, as it was to the ERA case, and will be when the commissioner is taken to a civil or criminal court. My view is that the ministry has now engaged a PR Company because they have lost everywhere and so badly.  The decision’s first part is the summary of the commissioner’s case and is unfair to Peggy because of its placement.  They are hoping people won’t read any further and will not bother to read the second half which is the summary of the case and expresses the decision so definitively in Peggy’s favour.  They are just into damage control but yet again there is the bullying approach to try to intimidate Peggy and the school.

With the commissioner still in place, if a PR Company has been employed, that will be another cost adding to the near million dollars the school might well have to pay for the privilege of hosting aforementioned commissioner.

Overall, this is bureaucratic sadism.

Have you read this press victory in the Christchurch Press?

And now to the posting I was in the middle of writing

The commissioner and the hunt for the Snark

The preceding events are both straightforward and complex.

Straightforward when it is considered that three members of the Rangiora High School Board wanted their way in selling the schools farm assets and in using the financial assets from sales of some of those assets.  In opposition, the principal – Peggy Burrows – (and the majority of the board) refused to allow that way, referring to a legal ruling saying there were restrictions to how those assets, granted to the school over a 100 years ago, could be used.

Meanwhile, the ministry was importuned by the disaffected members and, in a strangely focused development, in July 2014, the ministry advised the board that it was not required to apply the proceeds of the sale of the new farm land to new farm land, rather the funds should be applied in suitable manner to generate income for the benefit of the School’s schooling operations.

The reference to ‘schooling operations’, you should note, is dangerously wide and would allow the assets to be swallowed up in what should properly be government expenditure.

In late 2014, the outgoing board sought a low level intervention from the ministry and two specialist advisers were appointed.

Complex when it is considered that on, 26 February, 2015, the ministry then dismissed the board based on a report prepared by the same person later appointed as commissioner – a Ms Beverley Moore.

That report was not made available to the board or principal at that time and when it did become available later, was farcically redacted. In effect it was a secret report, one that was used to dismiss the board and principal, and form the basis for the appointing the person who wrote it.

The chair of the new board-that-wasn’t and was-never-to-be, Dave Turnbull was taken aback, declaring that the ‘board struck me as competent as any board I have been working with since 1989’.

The commissioner proceeded to make insinuations about the principal, apparently based on the report, insinuations that found their way to the media; insinuations she knew to be false but failed correct.

I am going to stop this narrative line here because it is another I want to link into.

It began with the ministry exhibiting an unhealthy preoccupation with the assets; then the commissioner beginning her illegal reign with heavy references to them in newsletter after newsletter – also a preoccupation with a hunt for a caveat, which in its absurdity, reminded me of the hunt for the Snark, especially the part which sometimes has the boat going forward with its stern.

No-one seems to have realised we have gone through much of this before, yes, in the Tomorrow’s Schools period (1990-1995), yes, with a National government, yes, with the education minister who actually competes with Hekia Parata as the worst ever (I refuse to even recognise Merv Wellington), and yes, the government and minister lost (but lost with more dignity than the present incumbent, which is why Hekia retains her tag as worst, awarded in a moving ceremony some weeks ago).

The commissioner in a newsletter said she had scoured the documents at Rangiora High School for proof that the school held titles under ‘High School Reserves’ and the Education Lands Act, 1949. She couldn’t, she declared, even find reference to these things.  There was no caveat – it wasn’t for the finding. It was a figment. This only showed how errant the principal was she had suspended, gagged, and dismissed; and how right she had been to upend her, to let her twist in the wind to insinuations started by her.

But why all the interest from the commissioner and ministry – why the rush to lawyers and asking about selling the land?

Not really a mystery is it?

In select committee, when the secretary of education and another senior ministry official were asked whether they were going to sell the Rangiora land the senior official said ‘no’ and the secretary said ‘we don’t know yet’.

Oh you have to laugh.

Meanwhile, do I have some news for you!

In fact, we have 20 pages of it from the Ombudsman all headed OIA and with a lovely reference number atop.

Namely OIA 997318.

What poetry in numerals.

For all those who have a commitment to justice be joyous.

It adds up to this:

Between 1884 and 1959 the Rangiora Board of Governors acquired five parcels of land including the Rangiora High School and land. The Board, in an upright way that would have the governors saying good on you, early on, gained its own statute, the Rangiora High Schools Act.

In 1964, all the titles were transferred through to the Christchurch Secondary Schools Council (CSSC), not for control by that Council but their guardianship.

Are you following me commissioner? Are you getting the drift?

The CSSC dissolved in 1989 with the titles moving to the Crown under the 1989 Education Act (Tomorrow’s Schools). Yes – it was the time of Lockwood Smith.

No – don’t get your hopes up commissioner; there’s more to come. And like any good story the best bit.

From 1990 through to 1995, the Rangiora Board of Trustees battled with the ministry seeking what they considered the rightful return of ownership of all titles. Yes – the battle was fierce but fair.

(Given what has happened at Rangiora, and the courage displayed by Peggy, I am truly moved by the essence of this story.)

Following considerable legal research, the Education Department advised the minister of education to acquiesce to the agitation of the Board and pass ownership of the titles back to the Board.

Are you still there commissioner? Are you following? Would a chart help?

The minister was advised that the titles be transferred as and for ‘High School Reserves’ under the provisions of the Education Lands Act, 1949 (there they go again commissioner, the terms you couldn’t for the life of you find).

In explanation: the minister was informed that the titles comprising the nursery school and the bulk of the school farm were not included in the School Property Occupancy Document and had been self-supporting operations without any financial assistance from the Crown.

Peggy’s stand was justified – a weaker principal might have crumpled – Peggy stood strong.

Mind you, after all, if she had participated in an illegal use of the titles, she would have been the main one to take the blame.

The fact is Peggy has a very good legal brain and is strong on financial management.

What a history going back 135 years and Peggy stood strong.

There is, of course, the matter of what the Act says about using the land – it is not land for land, but land that can only be used or sold to continue to generate income for the school in a highly prescribed way.

Now commissioner, get out of the school and the community (and my life up here can it be said) and let Peggy get back to where she belongs: the proud principal of the estimable Rangiora High School.

Hekia’s land grab has been thwarted

The immorality of the actions of the commissioner laid bare.

Minister, what you have done, and continue to do, is unforgivable.

Remember – you started it and, as revealed, without cause.

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5 Responses to Parents, teachers, and community of Rangiora High school get a load of this

  1. James McFadden says:

    My goodness… I think your tinfoil hat may be too tightly fitted, Kelvin. I note you live in Cambridge so I assume you are a friend (or perhaps a former colleague) of Burrows as I understand she hails from that area. As an outsider, you need to know that “down south” there is little interest in this issue. By all accounts Rangiora HS is a well run school, especially since (as one young relative of mine labelled it) the “cult of personality” ended two years ago. Burrows’ recent press releases (see which were unfortunately published as “news” by reporters eager to fill their January pages, attract only 40-50 comments. This is a pretty dismal display in a district of 60,000 people. Burrows’ social media campaign has clearly failed to inspire support. I am unaware of a public outpouring of outrage since Burrows lost her job. The school has a bright future (as confirmed by last year’s ERO review). It is now time to move on, as Burrows herself has acknowledged. Given the description of her workplace behaviour in the ERA decision, I suggest that Burrows realises how lucky she was to be awarded anything at all. My final request of you, Kelvin – as this issue fades away – is simply that you publish this comment on your blog. It would seem that may mark a change in your usual behaviour, but I consider the suppression of free speech to be a rather nasty thing to promulgate in a free society such as ours. I have an inkling that (despite your conspiracy theories) you may, in fact, hold the same view.

    • poled says:

      There is little interest in Kaiapoi of a dairy owner in Hikurangi being attacked. There are social media campaigns for justice which do not inspire support and public outpouring of outrage against injustice. There are All Black players (well player), who goes into a toilet which draws massive public interest.

      If someone from your family were treated as Ms Burrows has been, as is still being treated, as evidenced by these comments, you would not brook such trite reasoning.

  2. Kelvin says:

    This Comment is passable within the rule of thumb of this site even though it is wrong in almost every way and claim.

    Even though I have owned trotters and Peggy’s husband is a trainer, I had no idea of Peggy’s existence, so that one falls flat to set the tone for the worth of what you say. I believe long-term slanted campaigns like yours can have their day, but it is my website, and one with a commitment to people sincerely seeking the truth. Your statement that Peggy was ‘lucky to be awarded anything’ really says all that needs to be be said about you.

    You don’t seem to realise that I have fought campaigns against injustice for years and never lost one. Peggy’s is just another one I have helped to win.

    There is more to come from me, so keep reading. Find your own site to pick on a woman who stopped the school acting illegally over the farm assets and also losing them to the government and who lost her job to a secret report never disclosed.

    Peggy won her case without a dollar being deducted.

    Keep reading and then there is watching the matter going through the courts.

  3. P. Absolum says:

    I rather think James McFadden (Williams) has got things wrong. New Zealand is a village. It matters not where one hails from.
    Down south, there is much interest.
    The school ran well, but when one has to deal with personalities of 80 staff, hundreds of students and parents. No mean task.
    As for Mrs Burrows and the ‘cult of personality’ I never heard that said of or at Rangiora High School.
    The ERO report comes every three or four years, so obviously improvements were being made from the recommendations from the previous ERO report. Therefore, something good must have been happening with the leadership of Mrs Burrows.
    I find your comments rather harsh, as I presume you have only an outsiders view?!
    Work place behaviour! You need to check out all the others including the outsiders who conspired for this event to happen – nothing happened in isolation. There is more to this than meets the eye.
    Kelvin has vast experience in the education sector and I appreciate his views, his experience and for him standing up for what is right.

  4. P. Absolum says:

    James McFadden (Williams) Your argument is very weak. The ERA Judge has heard evidence and ruled. That should suffice.
    The school has always had a bright future since its beginnings. ERO reports have improved over the years which included under Mrs Burrow’s principal-ship. One only needs to look up the ERO reports on the school’s website to be informed.
    Down South – crap – NZ is a village, the world is a global village. Many people around NZ and some contacts around the world are very interested. So, forget that comment. As for Cambridge – what has that got to do with any comment?
    I don’t think criticism of her workplace behaviour can be supported by you or the SLT team. The SLT didn’t do much to support her when she needed it. They were too busy with their own importance.
    Humans are humans, one sees animals in a paddock set to on one particular animal for their own benefit. This is what I see has happened at Rangiora High School.
    I have never heard of or experienced at Rangiora the so called ‘cult of experience’ so where that idea comes from must be within the persons head.
    Long term slanted campaigns – hello, check out the Opposition Party on housing, education, health etc.

    “If you win, you need not have to explain…If you lose, you should not be there to explain!”

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