Election 2020: Catholic school upsets parents over cannabis and End of Life Choice referendums

By September 9, 2020 Recent News

NZ Herald 9 September 2020
A Catholic school that has given parents “vote no” literature on cannabis and euthanasia has sparked a moral and legal row over whether schools should get involved in politics.

St Joseph’s School in Stratford, Taranaki, has emailed all its parents attaching Family First literature listing 20 reasons to vote no to the upcoming referendums on both issues, and giving a link to the VoteSafe website opposing the proposed euthanasia law.

The email appears to breach Ministry of Education advice that state and state-integrated schools are state entities and “can’t encourage electors to vote or not vote for specific parties, policies or candidates”.

But Catholic Education Office chief executive Paul Ferris said school boards of trustees were “independent legal entities” and he had not provided any advice on how they should handle the referendums.

“A secondary school even has the legal power to make bylaws. That’s how it can enforce uniform policies and things,” he said.

Family First director Bob McCoskrie said the documents attached to the email came from a pamphlet that has been distributed to 300,000 people but has not been sent directly to any schools.

“We haven’t targeted schools. It will just be coming on site through either parents or staff,” he said.

He said Family First was spending more on the “trifecta” of this year’s two referendums and general election than it has on any previous issue including the 2009 anti-smacking law and the 2013 same-sex marriage law.

He said spending by groups involved in the anti-smacking referendum was limited to $110,000, but the cap on spending for “third-party groups” this year was $338,000.
READ MORE: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12363285

Taranaki Catholic school’s email to parents included documents to ‘vote no’ in cannabis and euthanasia referendums
Stuff co.nz 9 September 2020
The Ministry of Education plans to remind educators of the “appropriate approach” during election season after a Stratford Catholic school upset parents by sending an email with reasons to ‘vote no’ in the euthanasia and cannabis referendums.

The email, which was sent to the parents of pupils at St Joseph’s Catholic School Stratford on Tuesday, came from principal Chris Linders through the school’s office manager.

“Please find attached information to help you make an informed decision about the upcoming referendum. The www.votesafe.nz/quiz is also worth a go. It contains 10 questions and just takes a few minutes,” it read. “God bless, Chris.”

Each attachment contained a document from valueyourvote.org.nz, which is run by social conservative group Family First New Zealand.

The documents were 20 reason to vote no to cannabis, and 20 reasons to vote no to euthanasia.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/news/122707416/taranaki-catholic-schools-email-to-parents-included-documents-to-vote-no-in-cannabis-and-euthanasia-referendums

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