20 Dec 2011

PM to review handling of adviser controversy

5:25 pm on 20 December 2011

Prime Minister John Key is to review the way his former Education Minister handled the controversy involving a school adviser on national standards who had been stood down from a previous job.

The Labour Party is calling on Mr Key to properly investigate the handling of the controversy.

Northland school principal Pat Newman went public to complain that fellow principal Debroah Mutu, who had been suspended from her job for covering up a liaison between her teacher husband John Mutu and a student, had been hired as a student achievement practitioner.

Before this year's election the minister, Anne Tolley, in October denied there was such a case and her office accused Radio New Zealand of making up the story.

Mrs Tolley told Parliament that Mrs Mutu had never been suspended.

The Teachers Council Disciplinary Tribunal has now made public the details of the case Mr Newman was referring to, and they show Mrs Mutu was stood down from a kura in 2007.

Mrs Tolley on Tuesday blamed her former Ministry. "Employment issues are always dealt with by the Ministry so as an individual appointment I wouldn't have any information. I rely entirely on the Ministry to give me any advice in order to answer a question."

Mr Key also tried to brush off questions about the matter, but is now promising to look into it.

"I haven't had a good review of that situation. I'll go away and have a look at that, but I have confidence in my ministers otherwise I wouldn't reappoint them."

Mr Key says Mrs Tolley would have relied on advice from her ministry. She is now Minister of Police.

Meanwhile, Pat Newman says he blew the whistle - not because he was a Labour Party candidate at the time - but because he felt they were being told how to run a school by a former principal not capable of managing a school.

Debroah and John Mutu have been struck off the teachers' register by the disciplinary tribunal.