Gore School Board chair should resign says Catholic principal

School Board

St Peter’s College school board chair should resign, the school principal says.

The Ministry of Education placed the Gore Catholic school under statutory management at the end of last month.

Principal Tara Quinney (pictured) says she has no confidence in the school’s board chair, Ruth Mitchell, to lead.

She says she has a dysfunctional relationship with Mitchell and won’t be able to work with her in the future.

Community concerned

Quinney says she is speaking out about the issues surrounding the Ministry’s intervention because of community concerns about the school’s health.

She wants to allay these.

She says she’s finding it “heartbreaking” when people approach her with their concerns for the school’s future. They paid for and built the school back in 1969, she says.

“I know we are a strong Catholic school which has an amazing history and support behind it. I don’t like people feeling unsettled about the future of our school when it is actually very safe and strong.”

These included claims that Mitchell and three other board members were perhaps there for “the circles they themselves socialise in”, rather than being there for the whole school.

Quinney’s concerns

The principal’s and board chair’s difficulties began before Christmas.

They concerned four board members, including Mitchell, asking to meet with four senior staff without Quinney’s presence. The meeting was about a parent survey the board had undertaken.

Although Quinney was absent at the time, she stopped the meeting as it was outside the board’s governance duties, she said.

She explained the board conducted the survey to determine what the community thought about certain things at the school. It focused on a lot of the negatives and not the positives, Quinney said.

She didn’t think sharing the survey summary would be appropriate then. It was the middle of term four at a very stressful time of the school year, she said.

The staff had had three years of Covid behind them, were exhausted and trying to make it through to the end of the year.

Nonetheless, she was open to finding out about the survey.

She recommended, “even though it was outside the bounds of governance,” she and the senior leadership team meet with the board early in the 2023 school year.

“That was not an option that was taken up,” she said.

An untrained Board

Quinney said the board comprises mostly new members and thinks the issues stem mainly from their not being trained in board matters.

She said Mitchell had repeatedly refused to get free training for board members.

Training is an “absolute must” regardless of people’s experience and backgrounds, Quinney said.

The Ministry said training is not compulsory.

Quinney said she wants a board committed to the school’s character.

Limited statutory manager

Board chair Ruth Mitchell is not responding to questions regarding Quinney’s specific worries.

Instead, the school’s limited statutory manager has acknowledged Quinney had some concerns about the school’s governance.

The board is confident Nicola Hornsey’s appointment as a limited statutory manager can address these.


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