Oh dear. Looks like Anne Tolley has not done her homework.
Our newly appointed Minister of Police today is being accused of misleading the public over what she knew – when she was Minister of Education – about a suspended school principal’s appointment as an expert adviser.
The NZ Herald today reports that Deborah Anne Mutu resigned as principal at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kaikohe in 2008 after her husband John Hone Mutu was suspended by the school’s board of trustees the previous year.
She later worked for the Ministry of Education as an “expert” adviser to principals.
But her copybook has been well and truly blotted.
Alf learns today –
The Mutus have been deregistered for serious misconduct and ordered to pay $20,000 each in costs following a hearing by the New Zealand Teachers’ Disciplinary Tribunal.
A hearing in October was told a series of incidents involving Mr Mutu took place between 2004 and 2007.
In one case, it seems, Mutu the principal ordered staff to tear up the written complaint of a 15-year-old student alleging Mutu the teacher had visited her at home and kissed her.
But Tolley’s problems arise not from Mutu the teacher’s hanky-panky, but from the Ministry of Education hiring Mutu (the principal) in February as one of 46 student achievement practitioners.
These are “experts” paid to advise principals.
A Ministry of Education spokesman said Ms Mutu was seconded from another organisation, but the secondment was terminated in October when the ministry became aware of the disciplinary proceedings against her.
In October, too, Labour’s education spokeswoman Sue Moroney raised Ms Mutu’s employment in Parliament.
Alf recalls being impressed with the way Tolley made nonsense of Labour’s attempts to make life awkward.
Sue Moroney: Why did she say that the claim a suspended principal was a student achievement practitioner was completely false, when Deborah Mutu gave a presentation as a student achievement practitioner to a meeting of Northland principals and Ministry of Education staff at the ministry’s offices in Whangarei on 31 August, the same Deborah Mutu whom the Northern Advocate reported in May 2008 as having been suspended from her role as principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Because the Northern Advocate was incorrect.
Sue Moroney: Is she aware then that Deborah Mutu’s teacher registration has not been renewed following her suspension, nor was her employment as principal reinstated?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: What I do know is that that principal has never been suspended.
Sue Moroney: What information can the Minister provide to Parliament today to show that the Northern Advocate report was in fact false when it said that she had been suspended as the principal of the Kaikohe kura?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I am advised that the Ministry of Education, in advertising for the student achievement practitioners—these expert advisers of whom 46 have been employed—has done extensive research into the background of the over 500 applicants who wanted to take part in this National-led initiative to support the increasing of student achievement in our schools as a result of national standards. The ministry has done extensive research and checked out the backgrounds of all the applicants and certainly has given advice to me in the last 24 hours that no one has been employed who was a suspended principal.
The Northern Advocate – it seems – has cause for rejoicing today.
It’s report back on May 2 2008 was not quite as wrong as Tolley tried to have us believe.
Kura teacher Hone Mutu, also the head of New Zealand’s kura kaupapa movement, was suspended last October and was understood to be on paid leave.
His wife Deborah, the principal, was also suspended following questions over financial management of the school and was confirmed to have been on paid leave since October.
A police spokeswoman confirmed there was a complaint laid about a “sexual activity” against a senior staff member whom the board had suspended from school.
If anything had been wrong about those paragraphs, Alf imagines the Mutu lawyers would have been kept busy with defamation writs.
Not surprisingly, the Labour Party is now accusing Tolley of misleading the public in the aftermath of the former Northland principal and her husband being deregistered by the Teachers’ Council Disciplinary Tribunal for serious misconduct.
According to Radio NZ’s report today of this carry-on, the deregistration follows a hearing in October at which the couple admitted the facts of the case.
Ms Mutu, who was later employed by the Ministry of Education as an expert adviser to schools, admitted covering up a liaison between her husband John Mutu and an underage girl student.
The tribunal found she failed to investigate the incident or report it to her board and told her staff to destroy a written statement by the girl.
It found that John Mutu had bought gifts for other female pupils, talked to them about sex and took them for rides in his car.
The tribunal also found that he and his wife failed to tell the board the kura was failing financially and academically and its NCEA accreditation was at risk.
The pair were stood down from their duties in 2007. The Ministry of Education appointed a statutory manager to the kura and a disciplinary investigation began.
The tribunal ordered the couple to pay costs of $20,000 each.
Dunno what price Tolley will have to pay.
But she seems to have been somewhat cavalier, in answering Moroney’s question and in responding to Whangarei principal Pat Newman’s allegations that the Ministry of Education was hiring specialist advisers to schools who were unfit or unqualified for the job.
The Boss should be looking into whether she checked her facts appropriately at that time, or (naughty, naughty) whether she knew the information she gave Parliament was deliberately misleading.
Tolley now is Minister of Corrections as well as Minister of Police.
Clearly, she has some correcting to do.