Report slams drug testing

By Rachel Grunwell, Greg Taipari

Drug tests may have breached the Bill of Rights. Photo / Rotorua Daily Post
Drug tests may have breached the Bill of Rights. Photo / Rotorua Daily Post

A high school that forced students to strip to their underwear while they underwent drug tests has promised to adopt new disciplinary procedures.

Investigators have found that Rotorua Boys' High may have infringed the Bill of Rights by conducting the draconian drug testing on pupils.

But after conducting his own inquiry, the school's statutory manager Dennis Finn is refusing to apologise to parents. He said "letters of explanation" would be sent out instead.

Finn had confidence in principal Chris Grinter and deputy principal Fred Whata after investigating the allegations.

In February, the Herald on Sunday revealed that former student Chris Reid said he had been told to strip to his underwear and drink 15 cups of water over 90 minutes so he could urinate into a cup.

Reid, 17, said he felt "disgusted" by his treatment, which was carried out without the knowledge of his parents.

The report was sparked by complaints from several families whose children were excluded from the school's Tai Mitchell Hostel.

Its authors, the New Zealand Education Consultants, upheld 24 of 32 of the claims - and raised concerns about inadequate support for students.

But Finn said the school would continue to take a hard line on drugs. He is meeting a lawyer tomorrow to see if some of the practices could continue because they were carried out in the hostel, not the school.

The report was commissioned after a parent of a student caught with cannabis at the hostel complained about how the matter was handled.

It is understood hostel staff found a bag filled with cannabis in a student's room. The student was expelled.

One parent said his family is owed an apology. He said his son may have made a mistake, but that didn't excuse the school's actions.

"I'm going to seek legal advice on where to go from here. I think that's my only option."

The Education Ministry appointed Finn to the school late last year to investigate alleged mismanagement, inappropriate drug-testing and financial issues. Both Grinter and Whata refused to comment.

- ADDITIONAL REPORTING: ROTORUA DAILY POST

- Herald on Sunday

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