Litigious Approach to School Discipline Worrying Trend

courtMedia Release 30 March 2015
Family First is warning that a litigious approach to school disciplinary decisions will undermine the authority and special character of individual schools and has the potential to send some schools bankrupt. The comments come in response to two recent cases where parents have gone to court to challenge school rulings, including the St Bede’s rowers and the haircut ruling at Hasting’s St John’s College last year.

“Schools are working hard to instill values, discipline and respect in their students and they should be allowed to develop policies and rules to the benefit of the whole school community – not just the rights and demands of individual students and their parents,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ

“Parents rushing to courts and the decisions in these two most recent cases smack of politically correct human rights nonsense – especially ‘children’s rights’ – and shows a lack of respect to the role of authority and values of a particular school,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“The actions of the schools were reasonable and were not disproportionate, and were respected by the overwhelming majority of the wider school community. If parents don’t like the values of the school, they should challenge the rules through the Board of Trustees which is a representative group of parents anyway, or go elsewhere.”

“If every parent went to the court every time they disagreed with a decision, schools would quickly go bankrupt on legal fees,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Where does this all stop? Can pupils now challenge for the right to have piercings all over their face, or to wear mufti rather than uniform, or to play in school sports teams despite wagging class throughout the term, or refusing to wear the required team uniform or attend practices?”

Family First has previously criticised a court ruling that overturned a St John’s College school decision to set a hair standard.

“We would encourage the Minister of Education to determine how to protect schools from expensive and inappropriate legal action, on behalf of many other schools who call for adherence to school rules, discipline, tidiness, and standards in their schools.”

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