Herald on Sunday

School’s wellbeing boss quits

Resignatio­n follows that of private school’s principal three weeks ago

- Amy Wiggins

The wellbeing director of a top private school has resigned this week. St Peter’s School in Cambridge confirmed wellbeing director Dr Micheal Brown had resigned from the role he has held since 2019.

This comes three weeks after the executive principal resigned amid an investigat­ion into bullying at the school. Dale Burden and his wife and deputy principal Yevette Williams had not been seen at the school since before the end of term 1.

The board of the private Waikato-based school had earlier confirmed bullying complaints had been made to workplace bullying watchdog WorkSafe in term 1 and the school had commission­ed an independen­t investigat­ion.


Campus principal Julie Small on Friday told the Herald parents and caregivers were advised in “a written communicat­ion” that Brown was on leave on June 11. Staff were advised verbally prior to that.

Staff and parents were on Thursday told Brown had resigned. Brown’s profile was also removed from the school website on Thursday.

In the weekly newsletter sent out on Thursday Small said they had planned to carry out a review of the form and function of the wellbeing centre this term.

“We will now take our time to proceed with this review to ensure we have the best structure and practices to support our students going forward. Keeping our students ‘front and centre’ is of paramount importance to me,” she wrote.

The wellbeing centre would be managed by deputy principal Brenton Joubert in the interim.

Prior to the principal’s resignatio­n board chairman John Erkkila said WorkSafe had contacted the board in term 1 to let them know anonymous complainan­ts had made concerning allegation­s of workplace bullying and that WorkSafe was making inquiries.

“Following a meeting with WorkSafe, we worked to understand the best course of action and the board engaged two independen­t investigat­ors,” Erkkila said.

“Those investigat­ors have sought to understand what may or may not have occurred. Those investigat­ions are not yet complete, but I want you to understand that this issue is being taken incredibly seriously.

“And I want to understand, if any wrongdoing is found, how that was allowed to happen and how we go about ensuring it doesn’t happen again.”

The investigat­ion was due to be completed and presented to the board this month.

In an update sent to parents after Burden’s resignatio­n, Erkkila explained the independen­t investigat­ors would make recommenda­tions to the board about any improvemen­ts to policies and procedures around reporting allegation­s of workplace bullying or other inappropri­ate conduct within the school and how they were responded to and dealt with.

“I want to recognise the resilience the whole school community has shown recently and particular­ly our teaching staff in the way they have maintained a stable learning environmen­t for our students,” he said.

In the first email to parents regarding the issue, which followed Worksafe’s confirmati­on complaints had been made, Erkkila acknowledg­ed the slow release of informatio­n to parents and caregivers.

“As a board, we have legal obligation­s and for that reason it has been a difficult environmen­t to navigate.

“But I also recognise the need to be open as possible with our school community is important.”

He added that the investigat­ions were still under way and the board “cannot and will not pre-determine that”.

“But if it is deemed that workplace bullying has occurred, I want you to know that it will be addressed.”

Operationa­l matters were in the hands of chief operating officer Rob Campbell during the investigat­ion, while teaching and learning matters would be looked after by Small.

 ?? Photos / Supplied ?? Two senior staff at St Peter’s School in Cambridge have resigned within past weeks.
Photos / Supplied Two senior staff at St Peter’s School in Cambridge have resigned within past weeks.
 ??  ?? Micheal Brown
Micheal Brown

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