Kawakawa Primary School principal Peter Witana has been dismissed after an investigation raised financial management questions.
Mr Witana declined to comment and is taking his dismissal to the Employment Relations Authority, but he rejected allegations of mismanagement under his watch. He has headed the school for 17 years.
In a letter sent to parents and caregivers of the school's 230 pupils this week, board of trustees chairman Roger Dephoff said Mr Witana's employment ceased on August 19.
A regular financial audit had raised concerns about financial management, he wrote. The Ministry of Education and the New Zealand School Trustees' Association had assisted in an investigation.
"The review, so far, has identified a number of practices in the financial and staff management systems which put our school at risk ... Although we only recently were able to access signed policies and procedures for our school, a significant number of those policies had not been followed, or adhered to, for quite some time."
The board was reviewing the school's entire policy framework.
The letter said allegations had been made about current board members misappropriating school resources. That was rebuffed by Mr Dephoff, who said "in no way" had board members misused their positions or school resources. Auditors and and the board's new monitoring systems would safeguard the school from any such risks in the future, he added.
Katrina Casey, the Ministry of Education's head of sector enablement and support, said a review of the school's financial position was part of the ongoing investigation.
In the meantime, the board of trustees was performing strongly and ensuring teaching and learning continued smoothly at the school.
"We are confident the board has all the right skills to steer the school through this transition. The board will be advertising for a new principal in the near future," she said.
The ministry would not comment on whether it would seek financial redress or lay a complaint with police, saying it would wait for the outcome of the financial investigation.
Kawakawa Primary is a decile-one, Years 1-8 primary school. Its roll is 90 per cent Maori.
Mr Dephoff was busy yesterday in his day job as a Kawakawa police officer and could not be contacted for further comment.