Administrative slip-ups have forced three Auckland schools to rerun elections for their boards of trustees.
The reruns come on top of extensions of time that the Ministry of Education granted to at least 54 schools due to delays in posting out ballot papers for this year’s elections, which were due to close for most schools on June 7.
Wairau Intermediate School on Auckland’s North Shore says it will have to rerun its election because “several hundred” ballot papers, representing about half of the parents entitled to vote, were not sent out.
Board chairman Alan Curtis said the problem was “a slip-up between the returning officer and the mailing house where an address file was incorrectly labelled”.
“It was spotted fairly quickly, but too late for voters to be able to get their votes in,” he said.
“There will be no additional costs to the school.”
Bayfield School in Herne Bay says its election was halted “due to an error in the electoral roll”.
Northcote College principal Vicki Barrie said her board’s election was invalidated because one candidate who was elected, Kate Hazeldine, withdrew after voting papers were issued when she found that she was ineligible to stand for election as a parent representative.
“We will hold a new election on August 23. In the meantime the previous board [the board which held office before the June election] returns to office,” she said.
Ministry of Education deputy secretary Katrina Casey said the ministry would cover the cost of the new elections.
“The boards of trustees elections at these three schools will be run again after it was found that in two cases some parents were left off the electoral roll and unable to vote and in the other, a candidate was ineligible,” she said.
She said last month that 54 schools had asked for an extension of time for the elections because of delays in distribution of ballot papers.
The recommended timetable for this year’s elections was to close nominations on May 24, mail out ballot papers by May 29 and close the voting on June 7 – a much tighter timetable than for local body elections, which allow eight weeks between nominations closing and the end of the election, including three weeks for voting.
Ponsonby Primary School and others reported that many ballot papers were not delivered until after the Queen’s Birthday holiday on June 3, leaving insufficient time for parents to read the candidate statements and post in their votes.
NZ Post chief marketing officer Bryan Dobson said NZ Post did not receive Ponsonby Primary School voting papers until May 30
“Our target service standard is for 90 per cent of mail to be delivered within three working days. Our current reporting shows that we are delivering over 93 per cent of mail within this standard,” he said.
“We will be working with the School Trustees Association to review the postal aspects of the school elections, to make sure any lessons learnt are captured for future elections.”
School Trustees Association president Lorraine Kerr said three out of 2500 schools having to rerun their elections had to be seen “in the bigger scheme of things”.
“The bulk of our schools got through their re-elections,” she said. “We had some issues with NZ Post, and resolved them.”
She said the association had talked to the ministry about running future board elections online, but that would require a law change.
A taskforce led by former principal Bali Haque has proposed transferring all the legal powers of boards of trustees to regional education “hubs”. Its final report was delivered to Education Minister Chris Hipkins this month and final decisions are expected to be less radical than the initial report.