Salisbury School

Stop the Press…Hekia has some support

Wonders will never cease, it appears that Hekia Parata has at least one person who will support her…and he actually makes some sense.

A leading academic says the Government is right to close Salisbury School and claims that intellectually disabled girls could be vulnerable to sexual assaults were “archaic scaremongering”.

Education Minister Hekia Parata announced the closure of Salisbury School and proposed the female students be moved to a boys school in Christchurch next year.

But a judge has overruled that, finding the closure to be unlawful after the school sought a judicial review.

Justice Robert Dobson said the decision disregarded “the prospect of greater risk of sexual or physical abuse” to the girls if they were sent to a co-ed special needs school.

The Minister is said to be preparing a response.

But a Massey education specialist, Dr Jude MacArthur, said that view was at odds with the New Zealand Disability Strategy.

?To portray young men with intellectual disabilities as sexually deviant and ?predating? on girls is inaccurate, damaging and archaic,” she said.

“This just perpetuates negative stereotypes of disabled people and contributes further to their marginalisation in society.”

MacArthur has also taken aim at the school’s lawyer, Mai Chen, who has commented on air that young males with intellectual disabilties could start predating on girls who were in the same facility.

?These harmful myths should be a thing of the past and Ms Chen?s comments are just another sign it really is time to end the segregation of people with disabilities,? she said.

Another Parata Misfire

It is hard to recall a?Minister with a worse success rate in recent times.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has ruled out an appeal over the High Court decision on the closure of Nelson’s Salisbury school.

Ms Parata said the safety of children was paramount and at the forefront of considerations during the process to close two and retain two residential schools.

In a reserved judgment yesterday, High Court judge Robert Dobson said Ms Parata’s order to close Salisbury School was unlawful because it relied on the possibility of sending some girls to live at a boys special needs school in Christchurch.

That disregarded warnings the girls would face greater risk of sexual abuse.

The school is also seeking court costs.

The ministry had “stuffed up” the process, but the judgment also acknowledged that mixing the two genders was unacceptable.

“The fundamental issue about putting these two cohorts together in a co-educational setting puts them at a high level of risk.

“The judge has agreed that they haven’t done enough research on that or listened to what we have presented.”

“We have lost faith in the minister because this whole process is supposed to be open and transparent but they haven’t looked at or taken seriously our concerns.

“We have had to go to this extent, to the High Court, in order for a judge to say you need to take this seriously.

“It’s taken that to prove that these are serious issues that we’re facing. They could have avoided all of this. If the whole consultation had been genuine and transparent, we wouldn’t have had to go to this extent.”

Ms Parata said today: “The safety of children has always been paramount and was very much at the forefront during this process.

There is no doubt the Education portfolio is one of the hardest ones, but Parata’s string of?back-downs?has been an?embarrassment?to herself and the Government.