Principal bitten by student pleads for help

The Dominion Post 17/10/2009

A principal is pleading for extra support in primary schools after an out-of-control 10-year-old bit a chunk of flesh from her shin and attacked two other staff. Shirley Maihi, from Finlayson Park School in Manurewa, needed stitches and a tetanus shot after the “horrific” incident. The decile 1 primary school was ordered to take the troubled pupil after he was kicked out of another school, she said. But she maintains that her school was not given enough support from the Education Ministry to handle the child’s “short fuse”. “His attack has left me with stitches in my leg from a bite which ripped the flesh from my shin, and several large bruises from kicks and punches. “There was no indication the attack would happen. He just snapped.”

Ms Maihi is calling on the Government to fund a counsellor and social worker at all low-decile schools, saying staff are in serious danger every day. But Education Minister Anne Tolley said it would cost more than $60 million a year and the cash was not available. A letter from Ms Maihi to Mrs Tolley, provided to The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act, details her concerns about the June attack and the lack of available resources. Schools that were “directed” to take troubled pupils were not given enough support.