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Family challenges college enrolment decision

Posted at 1:50pm Tuesday 01 Oct, 2019

A local family is challenging an enrolment decision made by Orewa College and the issue has been taken all the way to the Ministry of Education.

The college has rejected the enrolment application of the three Naidu children, who currently live out of zone but are moving into the zone next year. There is no doubt that, in making this decision, the college is sticking to the rules. However, the Naidu family believes that an exception could be made given their circumstances.

Currently the family lives in Gulf Harbour. Tony and Emma Naidu's two oldest children, Gisele, 14 and Ronin, 13, attend Whangaparaoa College, and the youngest, 11-year-old Blake, starts college next year.

The family has purchased land in Millwater and will build a house there. They expect to move in next April, at the latest.

Tony says the children are happy at Whangaparaoa College, but their new home is a 1km walk from Orewa College. “Moving schools is a disruption, but local is important to us,” he says.

Rather than have the children attend Whangaparaoa College for a single term, which will require purchasing two new sets of uniforms, the Naidus applied to enrol all three at Orewa College from the start of next year.

The children missed out in the ballot because they are not currently in zone.

“We want what's best for the children, and we are being honest about our move to Millwater – we are not trying to pull anything over Orewa College,” Tony says. “We have supplied the school with proof of the land purchase. When I applied, I thought commonsense would prevail but now I'm not so sure.”

Orewa College principal Kate Shevland says although they have seen an unconditional sale and purchase agreement, the college has had cases where that has been provided but the family did not end up living in the house.

“Since our zone reduction last year, we are scrupulous about ensuring students are actually living in the zone at the time of enrolment,” she says. “We have had too many instances where the request was not genuine, and we don't have the resources, nor do we wish to, go door knocking to check.”

At its meeting last week, the Orewa College board supported this decision.

The Ministry of Education has the power to do a ‘directed enrolment' and the college advised the Naidus to put the matter before the Ministry, which they did.

Ministry of Education deputy secretary sector enablement and support, Katrina Casey,
says when the Ministry became aware of the matter, they approached the principal to clarify the college's position.

“The college has followed our out of zone ballot process and advised the family that as soon as they are living within the school's home zone, they will facilitate the enrolments,” Katrina says. “We are unable to override the decision because the family is not living within Orewa College home zone.”

Tony says the family has not given up and will appeal the decision. “This is a fast growing area and we are not the only people building houses. I know of at least two others in this position.”

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