McAuley High School principal Xanthe Sulzberger has hired an employment lawyer as her dispute with the school's board of trustees remains unresolved.

Sulzberger, who became head of the Ōtāhuhu Catholic girls' school at the start of this year, has been on leave since August 30 when a large group of students and parents protested against her decision to place a Samoan language teacher on leave because of an alleged assault on a student.

Ministry of Education officials met the board of trustees last night to deliver its "preliminary decision regarding statutory intervention".

But today board chairwoman Joe Anne Tongotea said the board was still waiting for a final decision.


"It's business as usual for us," she said.

Asked whether the ministry planned to intervene, she said: "That was certainly on the table, but last night was a preliminary discussion."

"It was very well received on both sides, and they will come back to us in due course," she said.

Former principal Anne Miles has been brought back as the school's acting principal, but Tongotea said the board had not started any process of looking for a new principal.

Sulzberger, who was previously deputy principal of Mt Roskill Grammar School, is still listed as principal on the school website and on the ministry's schools database.

Employment lawyer Gretchen Stone, who has been hired by Sulzberger, said: "Unfortunately Mrs Sulzberger is not able to make comment at this time but remains committed to working with the Ministry of Education and the board of trustees in the best interests of all students at McAuley High School."

The ministry said in a written statement that it met with the board "to discuss our preliminary considerations regarding support, including statutory intervention".

"We expect to be in a position to comment further in a few weeks, once the final decision is made and the school board and proprietor have been advised," the ministry said.

Meanwhile a Samoan language teacher who was warned by Police after an incident involving a student on May 23 has returned to the school, allaying students' concerns that they did not have a competent teacher for the language.

Tongotea said the board's main concern was that the students got all the support they needed for the upcoming National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) exams.

"The main agenda is ensuring that we are doing whatever we are required to do and making sure that the girls go into NCEA well prepared," she said. "That is absolutely crucial for us."