21 Dec 2011

Ministry admits failings over Mutu appointment

9:08 pm on 21 December 2011

The Ministry of Education admits its process for appointing specialist advisers to schools was not rigorous enough and it did not know a Northland kura principal was facing disciplinary action when it employed her.

The ministry has terminated its contract with Debroah Mutu, who has been struck off the teachers' register for covering up her former husband's liaison with a pupil.

Mrs Mutu was stood down as principal of a Kaikohe kura in 2004 pending disciplinary action, but then resigned.

When her appointment this year as an adviser to a school was challenged, the then-Education Minister Anne Tolley told Parliament that no suspended principal was in such a job.

The ministry says it gave that advice because it understood Mrs Mutu had resigned from the kura and was not suspended when she was appointed as an adviser. It says it was unaware of the extent of the allegations against Mrs Mutu.

It says Mrs Mutu was seconded to the job on the recommendation of the national kura organisation and the appointment process was less rigorous than for employees.

The ministry says it has now addressed shortcomings in its secondment policy and procedures, and will in future require declarations about pending charges or court hearings.

The chief executive of the national kura organisation at the time it recommended Mrs Mutu as an adviser was her former husband, John Mutu.

He resigned from that position in October this year, about the time he and Mrs Mutu admitted charges of serious misconduct at a disciplinary hearing.

PM satisfied with Tolley

Prime Minister John Key says he is satisfied with the way Anne Tolley handled the controversy.

Mrs Tolley, who is now the Police Minister, attacked Radio New Zealand for reporting that Deborah Mutu had been hired as a student achievement practitioner despite her suspension.

Mr Key says the Education Ministry has admitted its processes were not perfect and is satisfied with Mrs Tolley's answers.