Former Bay of Islands College principal Elgin Edwards is fighting to get his job back, admitting he made mistakes running the school before being sacked last year.
But he maintains he is the best man to take the college and its community forward.
Carol Anderson, the school's limited statutory manager, dismissed Mr Edwards in April last year, alleging serious misconduct and irreconcilable differences. Mr Edwards was appointed in 2010 and although the school's roll grew and NCEA achievements improved, his tenure was marked by division.
His claim for unjustified dismissal, and seeking reinstatement, is being heard before Employment Relations Authority member James Crichton in Whangarei today. The case began yesterday.
In his evidence yesterday Mr Edwards acknowledged that he had made some mistakes and in hindsight would do some things differently. He said he took on the job partly for the challenge of turning the school around and NCEA achievements improved significantly during his time.
Mr Edwards said other senior staff members were making "self-serving" decisions at the college when he arrived.
"This was a school that wasn't serving its young people or its community."
Mr Edwards said he needed to implement changes to the administration and some in the school community were putting out misinformation about him. He admitted he should have dealt with that better at the time.
Mr Crichton said Ms Anderson alleged if Mr Edwards was introducing the right changes, the ugly reality was that he wasn't taking most of his staff with him. Mr Crichton said Ms Anderson's contention was that Mr Edwards was autocratic, reclusive and dealing with him was difficult and unpleasant.
But Mr Edwards said he felt he got little or no help from senior staff and some were "unyielding" to change.
He introduced a "credit average" system where teachers' NCEA averages were published for all to see, making some staff feel it was a "name and shame" exercise to inform people who were not delivering the goods.
However, Mr Edwards said he had done a similar thing in other schools he had led and the move was akin to what the Government's National Standards were doing.
"[Calling it] name and shame is a cloud to oppose transparency." Mr Edwards said.
Mr Crichton said he wondered if reinstatement would be possible for Mr Edwards, given the depth of feeling from some staff and community members.
But Mr Edwards said the school's and community's problems were much more likely to be resolved with him in charge.