A high school renowned for producing a string of Kiwi sporting stars has been accused of inappropriately drug-testing some students.
A source told the Herald on Sunday the allegations centred around three students from Rotorua Boys' High School's Tai Mitchell Hostel, who were excluded after they were tested for cannabis.
It is alleged tests were done in-house by staff, with boys forced to drink water and strip to their underwear before undertaking a urine test.
Parents are understood to be upset and irate and to have raised concerns over school management practices.
The Ministry of Education recently appointed Dennis Finn as the school's limited statutory manager, a move which removes some of the powers of the school board.
He confirmed a number of issues were being looked at, including management practices, the drug-testing of students and financial issues. But he was yet to fully "scope the job" and make determinations on all the allegations.
He could not go into specifics but said he would be surprised if investigations took "less than 12 months". Finn said investigations started into the school late last year and he had already spoken to principal Chris Grinter and board of trustees chairman Phil Carling.
Contacted on Friday by the Herald on Sunday, Grinter said "now is not the time to talk" and hung up.
Deputy principal Fred Whata said matters were still under investigation and "it would be unwise for me to comment".
Carling said the school had asked for assistance from the Education Ministry after "issues" had been identified and this had resulted in Finn's appointment.
He could not comment further other than to say he would work well with Finn.
According to the school hostel's handbook, a random drug test will be carried out by the school nurse every week for hostel boarders.
If a positive test is produced, the student concerned is suspended from the hostel for a minimum of two weeks and receive a letter of final warning from the principal. The student is re-admitted if a string of conditions are met, including counselling and producing a clear drug test.
Another failed drug test or incident of serious misconduct results in exclusion.
Auckland-based youth law senior solicitor John Hancock said it was not "absolute" that schools could legally carry out drugs tests.
No precedent had been determined by a court and there were lots of "grey areas".
"But students cannot be forced to take a drug test against their will and they cannot be treated inhumanely or cruelly," he said.
He said testing was usually used in response to a disciplinary situation such as when a student had been suspended for possession of drugs and as a condition of their return.
It was usually done after appearing before the school's board.
He said the student's consent was compulsory and parents should be notified, especially for those under 16.
It was deemed a medical procedure and should be done by a medical professional and this was usually arranged by the family.
He had not heard of school staff doing the tests.
He said schools could not do random tests or target students.
They needed to have clear evidence of use before they acted and if they suspected drug use they should legally refer the student to a counsellor.
He said students should seek advice before agreeing to any test. Principles of natural justice would have to be carried out and schools could not be bent on a pre-determined outcome.
"But in my experience, schools do not do drug testing willy-nilly," he said.
Famous old boys
* Golfer Danny Lee
* Kayaker Mike Walker
* Shooter Robbie Eastham
* Footballer Sam Messam
* Cyclist Sam Bewley