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Christchurch principal fights for reinstatement

Published: 1:28PM Wednesday November 21, 2012 Source: Fairfax

A principal was sacked just weeks after the school board chairman's daughter - a pupil at the school - was stood down, an employment authority has heard.

Christchurch Girls' High School principal Prue Taylor was dismissed by the school's board of trustees on November 2.

Today, Taylor is seeking interim reinstatement through the Employment Relations Authority at a hearing in Christchurch.

Her lawyer, Richard Harrison, has told the authority there dismissal had a "strong connection" between the disciplinary action over chairman James Margaritis' daughter and the firing of Taylor.

Margaritis' daughter was stood down just weeks before Taylor was told to leave the school.

Harrison said Margaritis stormed into Taylor's office on hearing about his daughter's stand down and was " incredibly rude".

Harrison said the board chairman had a "fiery temper and somewhat of a difficult personality".

"Mr Margaritis should not have, in this circumstance, been involved in that decision."

Today's hearing at the Sudima Hotel in Memorial Avenue began at 9.30am.

It has been told that Taylor was sacked for "misconduct".

However, Harrison said there was no misconduct and no details of any alleged misconduct had been provided.

"I would go as far to say, it's not very often I say this, from the evidence provided its difficult to see how this decision can be justified.

"There's no misconduct. Ms Taylor has done nothing wrong."

The authority will consider interim options including reinstating Taylor until the main hearing, a partial reinstatement with limited duties or the status quo with Taylor not at the school.

However, the authority has warned that a decision would not be reached today. "I won't be making a decision here and now. I want to consider the legal arguments properly."

"I'm going to reserve my decision but I'm obviously aware of the interest in the community as well as the interest of the parties in getting a quick decision so I will endeavour to release a decision within a few days."

The board has refused to say why Taylor was sacked other than that "issues and tensions" had existed between Taylor and the board for a long period.

A wide range of "stakeholder groups" had expressed "issues of concern" with Taylor since 2009, it said.

Harrison said some of the issues would be canvassed at the hearing, which would be based on affidavits produced by both sides.

He believed Taylor's dismissal was unjustified and, after reading the affidavits from the board, he was yet to understand why she was dismissed, he said.

Taylor said she hoped the hearing would go some way to answering people's questions about her dismissal and hoped to be back at the school by the end of the year.

Board chairman James Margaritis would not comment because the issue was before the authority.