Sacked principal awarded $150,000 for unfair dismissal

Dismissed Rangiora High School Principal Peggy Burrows.
Dismissed Rangiora High School Principal Peggy Burrows.

A former high school principal who was sacked from her job has been awarded $150,000 for unfair dismissal.

"Relieved" is how former Rangiora High School head Peggy Burrows has today described the way she feels after winning her unfair dismissal case against Commissioner Beverly Moore.

"I am thrilled to have won so definitively however the money the commissioner has spent on pursuing this case means there are no real winners. That's money which should have been spent on the students and staff at Rangiora High," she said.

Burrows was sacked in March last year, following a long-running stoush between her and her board of trustees.

The ministry also sacked the board members and Moore took control of the school in February last year.

Burrows was initially suspended over allegations she breached a gagging order by leaking board documents to the media.

The saga followed a number of allegations and tensions over employment and finance.

The then 57-year-old challenged her sacking before the Employment Relations Authority and sought reinstatement for unjustified dismissal.

Burrow said the ERA decision, released at the end of last week, had comprehensively upheld her appeal for wrongful dismissal as principal of the school she led for 13 years, awarding her one of the highest awards ever of $150,000 plus costs.

"I believe this was always about getting me out so the Ministry could control the school and its $14m in financial assets. I thought it was vital to protect those assets and advocate for the students, staff and community," Burrows said.

The two-week hearing into the employment dispute between Burrows and Moore was heard over seven days in September.

"It was extremely important to me and my family to clear my name and not be remembered for something I did not do," Burrows said in a statement.

"My heartfelt thanks go to the community and teaching staff who stood by me and my family during this very difficult time. I am also very thankful for the overwhelming support I have had locally, nationally and internationally."

Burrows, from North Canterbury, said she was still considering her options with regards to reinstatement, as the ERA determination did not support this request.

She told the Herald last year that local parents had set up a Givealittle page to raise money for her legal fight, and expressed gratitude for the support.

She was determined to clear her name and wanted her job back, she had said.

"The commissioner wrote a report [saying] that I lacked integrity and had been dishonest. I have to keep going until that can be put right, and that's what I'm doing.

"The first and most important thing to me is to clear my name. But, when you've been in education for 37 years your school becomes your whanau. I miss my staff and students."

The Ministry of Education told the Herald last year it was not involved in any way with the Burrows case.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 29 May 2017 11:23:58 Processing Time: 287ms