School board still not back in Moerewa

By Peter de Graaf of the Northern Advocate -
Commissioner Mike Eru arriving at Moerewa School last year, where media outnumbered protesters. Photo / APN
Commissioner Mike Eru arriving at Moerewa School last year, where media outnumbered protesters. Photo / APN

More than a year after Moerewa School's board was sacked the Education Ministry is considering how much longer to leave a commissioner in charge.

Education Minister Hekia Parata gave the Board of Trustees marching orders on April 23 last year, just hours after senior students returned to school for the new term. Commissioner Mike Eru arrived the next day and has been in charge since.

Although officially a Year 1-10 school, Moerewa had also been teaching Year 11-13 students enrolled as a satellite unit of Kia Aroha College in Auckland. The arrangement came about because some parents wanted to keep their children in Moerewa rather than send them to Bay of Islands College in Kawakawa. The board was sacked because the school refused to close the senior unit.

Once it was shut down some of its 17 students went to Bay of Islands College but most opted to study by correspondence in a vacant building on Moerewa's main street.

Earlier this year the school received another glowing report from the Education Review Office, yet it continues to be run by a commissioner. Ministry intervention is usually reserved for schools which are dysfunctional or where education is at risk.

The issue was raised with Prime Minister John Key during a visit to Kaikohe.

Kaikohe East School principal Chicky Rudkin asked whether the Government was "dialling back" Tomorrow's Schools, which in theory allowed schools to respond to community wishes. "They [Moerewa School] are thinking creatively and they had a successful ERO - so why is a commissioner still at the school, being paid with school money?"

A Ministry of Education spokeswoman told the Advocate all school interventions were reviewed after a year. A review of Moerewa School would be completed shortly. A decision would then be made about whether to continue with a commissioner.

The school's positive ERO report was being considered as part of the review but the ministry could not comment on how long the commissioner would remain, she said.

Moerewa School principal Keri Milne-Ihimaera has been barred from speaking to media. Commissioner Mike Eru did not return calls.

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