Take back bad pupils, schools told

NZ Herald 18 July 2013
Figures raise concerns ministry is putting on pressure to accept potentially dangerous students.
More than 100 schools that kicked out students for bad behaviour, including arson, physical assaults and drug use, have been made to re-enrol the same students again.

From 2003 to 2012 there were 163 incidences where a school was directed by the Ministry of Education to take back a student the school had previously excluded or expelled. In some cases primary school students were asked to leave following harmful or dangerous behaviour, including assaults on staff and classmates.

The figures have raised concerns that schools are being pressured into accepting potentially dangerous students who shouldn’t be in mainstream education. Family First NZ, which received the figures from the Ministry of Education, said schools were pressured to ignore dangerous behaviour.

“Schools are having no choice but to accept students who should not be in mainstream education at the moment,” said Bob McCoskrie, national director of Family First NZ. “The rights of children and teachers to be safe are being sacrificed in favour of the rights of students who place other children at risk.”

However, principals associations have sympathised with the Ministry of Education, saying the measure is a rarely used last resort.

The release of the figures comes after a high-profile backtrack last month by the ministry on the case of Paeroa Central School. It had instructed the school to re-enrol a 10-year-old who had assaulted a teacher and told other students he would “cut them up with a knife”.