Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Gag case school loses overseer

Mercury Bay Area School in Whitianga. Photo / Alan Gibson
Mercury Bay Area School in Whitianga. Photo / Alan Gibson

UPDATE (July 11, 2012): The Complaints Assessment Committee of the Teachers Council has investigated the alleged mouths-taped incident and are satisfied that this did not take place. The allegations are inaccurate. The Committee said further that they are of the view that Pat Doube is an exceptional teacher.

An intervention manager the Ministry of Education appointed to address concerns about a Whitianga school has not had her contract renewed only weeks after a teacher there was accused of taping two children's mouths closed.

The ministry has ended former school principal Lois Craill's contract as Mercury Bay Area School's limited statutory manager as the school investigates allegations that Year 3 teacher Pat Doube taped two 7-year-olds' mouths shut because they were talking too much.

The Herald understand Mrs Doube has recently gone on leave and one of the children involved in the alleged taping incident has returned to school.

The affair has not stopped Education Minister Anne Tolley revoking the statutory manager's appointment.

In a response to an Official Information Act request from the Herald, the ministry said a comprehensive report in March found there was no substance to the complaints and Ms Craill's job at the school was done.

The complaints addressed issues including a lack of respect, poor student achievements, inconsistency dealing with disciplinary matters, bullying and high staff turnover.

Ms Craill was appointed in October 2010 and finished on September 16.

Alison Adlam, an acting senior manager for the ministry, said in the information act response that the manager had not investigated any issues since completing the review in March.

However, a ministry spokesman told the Herald at the end of last month that she was still investigating specific complaints.

The recent mouth-taping complaint is being handled by the board of trustees and the ministry has said it will act only if parents are unsatisfied with the response from the board.

Labour Party education spokeswoman Sue Moroney said parents were still in the dark. "They have had no official feedback about what is happening, the investigation, where it is at and what the conclusions are."

Last night, Mrs Tolley said: "Parents need to be confident that their children are being taught in a safe environment. I have asked to be constantly updated on this issue."

- NZ Herald

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