Catholic school may be breaking the law employing principal

breaking the law

An Invercargill secondary school may be breaking the law employing its principal whose teacher’s practising certificate has expired.

Verdon College principal Jarlath Kelly’s practising certificate expired in June of this year.

The school’s board of trustees chairman Tim Ward would not comment that the school could potentially be flouting Education and Training Act laws.

A Teaching Council of Aotearoa spokeswoman said she could not comment on a specific person. But, all school principals were legally required to be registered and have a current practising certificate.

‘‘It is an offence to teach without a practising certificate beyond the 20 half days provided for in the Education and Training Act 2020, unless an extension is granted while an application for a practising certificate is before the council. It is also an offence for an employer to continue to employ a teacher in a teaching role beyond the 20 half days.’’

Mr Kelly has been the subject of several complaints recently.

The principal scheduled mock exams for students while in Alert Level 4. Parents complained this was putting extra pressure on their children.

Kelly responded saying: “Our main thing at the moment is just to manage that anxiety around it for people. I have said to the kids … we will get back to you in a couple of days about exactly what we are doing. In the meantime do a bit of study, spend time with your family, make the most of it.”

But, concerns about how Kelly interacts with teachers and parents were raised with the New Zealand Catholic Education Office and Dunedin Catholic Education Office.

Ministry of Education sector for enablement and support deputy secretary Helen Hurst said the ministry had received some complaints, ‘‘which in the first instance we have referred back to the school board as the employer.”

‘‘It is appropriate that they have the opportunity to respond directly.’’

If complainants were unhappy with the school’s formal complaints process, they should seek further advice from the ministry, she said.

Mr Ward said he had received the letter. The board was particularly concerned about the defamatory nature of many of the allegations against Mr Kelly.

‘‘The provision of the quality education is a collective effort of staff, students and those associated with the college in various roles. Mr Kelly, as principal, is the professional leader of the college.’’

Post Primary Teacher’s Association general secretary Michael Stevenson said the union would not make public any complaints received from members. These could undermine processes that may be in place to resolve complaints.

‘‘Our advice to any teacher who was feeling bullied, humiliated or unsafe would be to contact their PPTA field officer as soon as possible.’’


Otago Daily Times


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