Mystery as head leaves

By Peter de Graaf


The tenure of a controversial Bay of Islands college principal has ended but the nature of his departure remains a mystery.

The Kawakawa school's limited statutory manager, Carol Anderson, confirmed that Elgin Edwards, who headed the college since 2010, was no longer with the school.

It is understood staff were informed of his departure on Saturday and emails went out to parents yesterday.

In a statement to the Advocate, Ms Anderson said that she and the board of trustees regretted Mr Edwards would no longer be working at the college.

"The board would like to express its appreciation to Mr Edwards for his hard work and commitment to the school, his care for the students, and for his strong focus on student achievement.

"We wish him well in his future endeavours."

Ms Anderson would not disclose the nature of Mr Edwards' departure and the Advocate was unable to reach him yesterday for comment.

Mr Edwards' departure comes amid an ongoing exodus of staff.

A number of teachers left at the end of last year, including a deputy principal, who now heads Opua School.

Two more left at the end of term one and another is reportedly on long-term sick leave. At least three members of the board of trustees have resigned in the past two years.

A report by the Education Review Office earlier this year was highly critical of the school's leadership. Its authors said relationships between Mr Edwards and teachers, the Maori community and the board had steadily deteriorated since his appointment three years ago.

The Education Ministry appointed a limited statutory manager in early 2012 but disharmony had continued. Staff were suffering "significant discontent and low morale" and conflict at the school was impeding progress at many levels, the report said.

Ms Anderson said a relief principal would be in place for term 2 and would stay until a new principal was appointed.

In the meantime, Annette Wynyard would be acting principal in the first week of the holidays and Zorina Wigglesworth in the second.

In 2004 Mr Edwards was suspended as principal of Tokoroa High School but reinstated with compensation by the Employment Relations Authority two months later.

Seven senior teachers at Tokoroa resigned during thelast two terms of 2004 and the board of trustees quit in February 2005. Tokoroa's 2005 ERO report was also critical of Mr Edwards' management style.

- Northern Advocate

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