Moerewa senior students barred

By Peter de Graaf


Some Northland schools struggle to make their students show up for lessons.

In Moerewa, however, a Government-appointed commissioner has ordered 17 senior pupils to stop coming to school as of today.

Moerewa School was ordered to close its Year 11-13 unit last October, with Education Minister Hekia Parata sacking the school's board of trustees after the senior students were welcomed back for the new term on April 23.

Commissioner Mike Eru is now in charge but some parents have continued to send their children to school every day, despite orders to enroll them elsewhere.

Mr Eru has ordered senior students off the school grounds as of today.

The Education Ministry would not say whether it would prosecute parents who failed to comply; asked what action would be taken if the students turned up at school today, a ministry spokesman said that was up to the commissioner. Mr Eru did not return the Advocate's calls.

Education Ministry group manager Jeremy Wood said parents had been given until May 18 to shift their children to other schools. They had been offered financial assistance for uniforms and stationery, as well as extra teaching resources to help students catch up.

The ministry and Mr Eru had discussed the options with senior students' whanau, but so far only a few parents had made arrangements to shift their children.

Their local options were Bay of Islands College in Kawakawa or Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Taumarere in Moerewa, both of which had achievement rates for Maori students above the national average, Mr Wood said.

All children aged under 16 had to be enrolled at a school "lawfully mandated" to teach their year level.

The Advocate understands some parents want to enrol their children in Correspondence School and base them in a vacant classroom at Moerewa. They don't want to send their children to Kawakawa and say the kura kaupapa is problematic because they are not fluent in te reo.

While the ministry can't stop students aged over 16 taking correspondence classes, younger children are unlikely to get approval. Mr Wood said students under 16 would be accepted only if they had no local options, which was not the case in Moerewa, or had psychological issues which made regular schooling impossible.

The ministry preferred students to be engaged in face-to-face learning, with a range of social interactions and a breadth of curriculum choice, he said.

Moerewa School started its senior unit three years ago after some parents refused to send their children to Bay of Islands College. Although taught at Moerewa, the Year 11-13 students had been enrolled at Auckland's Kia Aroha College.

The Education Ministry, however, said the arrangement with Kia Aroha was illegal and an audit had uncovered irregularities with the senior students' NCEA course work and grades.

The Advocate understands principal Keri Milne-Ihimaera has been barred from talking to the media.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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