The Ministry of Education will restart its closure talks with Phillipstown School, Education Minister Hekia Parata says.
The ministry, which has already tried to close the school, was criticised by a judge last month after failing to properly consult with parents about the closure.
The school was tipped to merge with nearby Woolston School but representatives took the case to the High Court and came out with a win.
Justice John Fogarty ruled the decision to merge the schools was as unlawful due to a flawed consultation procedure. He demanded a restart or abandonment of the process.
In a statement released this afternoon, Ms Parata said she would not appeal the court’s ruling, and confirmed consultation will begin in the near future.
“The judge ruled there had been an inadvertent error in the way information about estimated property costs was provided to Phillipstown School,” she says.
“The judge said this error could be corrected by continuing to consult on those aspects of the proposals.
“Therefore, today I have advised both schools that I am proposing to continue consultation.”
School officials say they were told only 3.5 hours before the official meeting, held just after midday.
Speaking to 3 News afterwards, principal Tony Simpson said he was feeling “positive” after the announcement.
The school had only ever wanted “meaningful consultation”, he said, and now he hoped they would get it.
The ministry has been criticised for failing to provide the enough information and, in an apparent remedy, Several new staff members have been made available to help both Woolston and Phillipstown.
A senior Ministry of Education official will now be available to both schools along with a senior property manager.
The ministry has also offered to spend up to $2500 on a facilitator to help the schools consult with parents.
A toll-free number, 0800 746 338, has been reactivated for parents who want questions answered.
“I am mindful this process has been difficult on the school community and the families in greater Christchurch have already been through a lot,” Ms Parata says.
“I have sent letters to parents via the two schools to update them on the current situation.”
The discussions could, despite the long legal fight, eventually lead to Phillipstown’s closure – as long as Ms Parata works inside the law.
Acknowledgements: 3 News