Minister's bullying letter anti-democratic

19 June 2012

A letter passed on to PPTA by a distressed member reveals an unacceptable level of bullying from the minister of education, president Robin Duff says.

When Teacher A wrote to their local MP voicing concerns about proposed class size increases, the last thing they expected was for the response to be sent straight to their board of trustees (BOT).

The reply, from education minister Hekia Parata, was sent to the school's BOT and cc'd to the principal and Teacher A. It began "I am writing to you in your capacity as chair of the board of trustees…in response to a letter received earlier this month from one of your employees."

Teacher A was angered by what they saw as an attempt to intimidate them by "telling tales” to their employers.  "This does not honour the democratic process,” they said.

Duff agreed. "Replying to the employer of someone who has written a letter as a teacher and constituent is completely unacceptable,” he said.

Teacher A received no personal reply other than the following reference at the bottom of the letter "I want to acknowledge the contribution that (Teacher A) makes to the lives of young people and their commitment to supporting good educational outcomes.”

Duff described the letter, and the way it was received as "creepy and vaguely threatening.

"It appears to be a spiteful attempt to get the teacher into trouble with their employer and create a climate of fear,” he said.

Duff did not believe the incident was a one-off and said he would be raising the issue with the minister.

"This type of behaviour is completely inappropriate in a democracy,” he said.

Download pdfCopy of the minister's letter to school board and principal

Contact: PPTA president Robin Duff – 04 913 4227 or 021 636 108



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