Principal Admits Smoking Cannabis

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    Rotorua MP Todd McClay wants an investigation after a principal admitted to media he used drugs and paid a former student's family hush money for allegedly propositioning the girl.

    It is not known exactly when Kawerau College principal Steve Hocking propositioned the girl but it is understood to be several years ago.

    It has been reported the school board of trustees knew of his cannabis use and the secret payment but did not inform the Education Review Office.

    Mr Hocking refused to comment to The Daily Post about the propositioning and payment allegations but did admit using cannabis in the past.

    However, he said he had not used drugs for six years and would fight to retain his job.

    Mr McClay, in a statement, called for an urgent investigation, saying the matter can not wait until February 23 when the Education Review Office team is next due at the school.

    While he supported the board's efforts to make Kawerau College a great school, Mr McClay said there was "a duty of concern" owed to the community and an investigation could not wait.

    "It is important that we establish all of the facts surrounding these allegations so that the Kawerau community can continue to have confidence in the school and its management," Mr McClay said.

    At National's caucus meeting in Wellington today he planned to discuss the situation with Education Minister Anne Tolley.

    However, since his initial statement on the matter, he had changed his mind over its urgency and would not be pushing for the ERO review to be brought forward.

    The school's board refused to comment but its former chairwoman, Lynette Dolman, defended Mr Hocking, saying he has turned the school around.

    She is reported as saying five bus-loads of secondary school children used to leave Kawerau each day bound for other schools but there was now only one busload.

    Mr Hocking told The Daily Post he was determined to continue fighting for his job.

    He said he was not prepared to comment any further about a Herald on Sunday report saying he confessed to a reporter he propositioned a girl and paid for her silence.

    It was reported Mr Hocking admitted making the payment over remarks he made to the girl in the Kawerau Hotel.

    The amount is understood to be $1000. The girl, who held a senior school role, was 17 or 18 at the time.

    Mr Hocking told the Herald on Sunday he only paid out the money "for the benefit of the college".

    Mr Hocking told The Daily Post he had not used drugs in six years and would still continue to fight to stop drugs entering his school.

    "I've had difficulties of my own with drugs. But there is no place for it in schools. One thing this has done is given me an understanding of people going through those difficulties."

    In May 2003, he was quoted in The Daily Post as saying Kawerau College had suspended 56 students, 35 of whom were for use of drugs.

    A former head girl of Kawerau College is calling Mr Hocking a hypocrite and says he should be sacked.

    She asked not to be named but told The Daily Post Mr Hocking had taken a hard line on drugs when she was at the school.

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