The board of trustees at Kerikeri Primary School appears to have quit in a tactical move aimed at forcing the Ministry of Education to intervene.

A public meeting at the school on Wednesday was short of specifics - legal issues prevented former board members or the newly-installed commissioner from saying much about what had brought about the crisis - but it did give parents a chance to air their concerns.

The board at the 520-pupil school resigned on May 23. Commissioner Chris Saunders was appointed to govern the school the following Monday and started officially on June 5.

Close to 100 parents attended the 2pm meeting. Absent was principal Paul Lindsay, who has been on "refreshment leave" since March.


Mr Saunders could not comment on the reasons for Mr Lindsay's leave, whether he was likely to return, or whether he was still on the payroll. Nor did he know why the board had resigned.

"I can only assume they had issues on the table that may have been overwhelming ... or it could have been tactical - if they resigned, the Ministry would be forced to intervene."

Staff turnover is believed to have been as high as 40 per cent since the start of the 2013 school year. Some parents have sent their children to other schools in the area, such as Riverview Primary.

Mr Saunders said he would spend the first few weeks talking to staff and parents, reading "no end" of reports, and working out how the school had got into its current position. He believed the problems would be easy to identify.

He would then formulate a plan to sort out the problems one by one, a job he expected would take six to 12 months.

He was now into his third year as commissioner at Northland College but the situation there was very different.

"This school is fundamentally sound. There's nothing to tell me this can't be fixed reasonably quickly."

Responding to questions from parents, Mr Saunders said the school was currently being led by two deputy principals, and that the cost of the intervention, as yet unknown, would be borne by the school.

Other parents were concerned about the effect of the intervention on the school's reputation, and the lack of information about the principal's absence or the board's resignation.

A former board member said, for legal reasons, he could not could say why they had resigned, except that it was in the best interests of the children.

"So don't hang us just yet," he said.

Mr Saunders promised to hold another meeting in the evening, for parents who couldn't attend the 2pm meeting, and to hold a follow-up meeting before the end of term. He also offered to set up a parents' advisory group and to be available to anyone who wanted to raise concerns.