Examples of the Inner Workings of a Transparent Government

Earlier this year the Villa Education Trust applied for a Year 7 – 13 school, suited to neuro-diverse learners, non-zoned and near a transport hub in Auckland. A report for the Minister was clunked together by senior officials. In it they acknowledged all our support/demand. In it they also acknowledged the remarkable quality of the model/results through the work of staff, students and families in our schools. They then proceeded to tell the Minister to “reject the application without consultation” for a range of, largely non-sensical, reasons.

One of those reasons was the statement by Minister Hipkins that: “there are available supports for all learners in existing State schools“. A second was that a school of 480 (which 76% of NZ schools are at or below) would “not materially add to the network”.

Our parents and supporters have since been fighting to have the decision reviewed – or at the very least a meeting with the Minister (something I have been unable to get in four years – but he was frequently in touch in opposition. Chris – I feel like I have lost a friend!) The Ministry’s initial response was the bullying like attack on a family with an 8 year with autism and ADHD. This was done by a senior official with responsibility for Learning Support (I kid you not), Deidre Alderson, as timeline detailed below.

Two examples from OIA’s (and we have so many more slowly being sucked out of the vortex) highlight how these people are about self-protection and have no idea that they are actually supposed to address issues and fix/improve things.

If people have the temerity to raise an issue … most of the time they don’t reply … but this is how they plan it when they really think they ought to.

This second one is after I wrote to Alderson being absolutely stunned by her actions towards an 8yo. Note; she gets the love and care of Vinny (see below) … the 8yo doesn’t. It may also be of interest that Alderson is a former unionist who spoke out against Charter Schools. Surely someone with that much history about our model/Trust, if they had an ounce of professional integrity, would recuse themselves from any processes and decisions involving the Villa Education Trust.

Below is a timeline around the actions of officials towards and the Martin family. Note that somehow – the person who acted outside of protocol and in such a way that she devastated a family – got to be the one to tell the Minister not to meet with Mrs Martin in another official report.

The Ministry of Education had to apologise for a range of behaviours re schools in Christchurch post quakes. They have had to apologise to Taihape Area School for misappropriating a whole farm! Ironically – the Ministry of Education does not seem to learn.

Alwyn Poole (alwyn.poole@gmail.com)

ps – I am getting great demand and feedback on the all of high-schools data I have been able to process in the last month. Please email if interested.

Timeline and statements:

July 5: Deidre and Vinny Fallon lead the Ministry of Education team in the mediation over the NZHRC carrying forward a complaint about the discrimination against neuro diverse learners. The two parents associated with VET are furious given things said in the meeting … now knowing what Deidre Alderson went on to do in subsequent days against the Martin family.

July 6: VET and associated families in receipt of the DCS rejection letter that contained the statement: “there are available supports for all learners in existing State schools”.

July 6: Jo Martin directly emails Hipkins (CC Holsted/Evans) the information about paying $2,700 per term as a donation per term to provide teacher aiding for her son with autism and ADHD – because there isn’t available supports for him – in his State School.

July 7: 9:03am Deidre Alderson (a Deputy Secretary for Learning Support in the Ministry) contacts the child’s Principal and, among other statements (auditors, don’t contact the families yourself – leave it to the SENOS, etc) demands that they refuse the donations and effectively withdraws the service from the child.

July 7: 5:05 pm. A Ministry of Education representative contacted the Minister’s office regarding the email of 6 July. The Minister throws the official under the bus by noting: “The Ministry of Education does proactively contact my office when I and the Ministry receive the same correspondence as standard practice. [i.e. they should have and they didn’t]. Hipkins has also noted: “the Ministry has acknowledged, and I have passed on to the parent, that it would have been more helpful and would have cleared up some of the confusion around this matter, had they contacted her directly.” And has had to publicly admit that some children do need assistance than the State provides and that donations to assist are fine.

July 9: Alderson and another highly paid bureaucrat, Vinny Fallon, gloat together about the effect her actions had on the Martin family and the bullying of an 8-year-old boy. Alderson even lies in the internal memo by blaming the action on the Minister.

July 16: Hipkins finally reads the email from the parent himself.

As at Stardate 26th of September … still no hint of a meeting with Hipkins.

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