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A meeting was hold yesterday evening, at the schoolroom, Elgin, “To consider the grounds for the action of the Committee in recommending the dismissal of the master. ” From twenty to twenty-four residents in the locality were present. MrTownshend was appointed chairman, and opened the proceedings by some brief remarks, and a request that the master of the school, Mr Proudlock, make his statement as to what he considered the facta of the case. Mr Proudlock said that he was not conceited enough to fancy himself free from faults, but if the Committee thought he had done wrong in anything, it was their duty, first of all, to ask him for an explanation, before writing to the Board of Education to recommend their confirmation of his dismissal. The fact was this matter did not originate with the Committee at all, but with the Chairman (Mr Bruce), who, when calling the members together, said that the business of the Committee was to discuss the dismissal of the master. It was a noteworthy fact that the leaders of the hostile movement against him had not a single child attending the school, and therefore had no interest of their own at stake. And was it a manifestation of public spirit on their part then to publish the resolution which had appeared in the press, “ That the master bo dismissed, otherwise the Committee will resign ?” They had accused him, without allowing him to be heard in his own defence, and had thus denied him that justice which was never denied to the lowest public vagrant. He had no doubt if he were dismissed, ho could get another appointment, but he liked his place; many of the people had been very kind to him, and he believed the majority liked him. Mr Proudlock went on to say that there were five charges which he understood were made against him. 1. That there was a deficiency of L 6 in his book account. 2. That he made different charges for books, etc., to different parents. 3. That he gave holidays contrary to instructions. 4. That he dismissed the children on wet days. 5. That he attended sale rooms instead of looking after the school. He asked Mr Bruce it those were the charges. Mr Bruce said that the Board of Education intended that an enquiry should be made into Mr Proudlock’s conduct. He declined to make any further statement on the subject. Neither he nor the Committee had heard anything previously about this meeting, nor had they been asked for the use of the room. In what he had done he had only acted in accordance with the rest of the Committee.

A person present said he objected to Mr Bruce snubbing the householders of the district.

Mr Proudlock said it was of no use for Mr Bruce to beat about the bush. He had a copy of the charges in his pocket. He wanted nothing but fair play. (Applause. ) Mr John Cochrane'said that, as a member of the Committee, he had found the account of books in an unsatisfactory state. He had made out a list of eightyseven articles missing from the school. Mr. Proudlock asked him if he was expected to pay for them. He (Mr Cochrane) said, “ I suppose so.” Mr Proudlock replied, “Do you think I eat the books?” He (Mr Cochrane) replied, “I don’t know; they were in your charge, and you ought to know about them. ” Afterwards he wrote to say he would settle the matter; in what way he (Mr Cochrane) did not know. Then also the Committee made a decision about the number of holidays, but Mr Proudlock had given others without asking permission of the Committee, on Easter Monday and other occasions. He had seen him too at the salerooms when he ought to have been present at the school. Mr Proudlock asked if the Committee had ever passed a resolution to decide that he should not go to the sale-rooms. He had gone twice, once at Mr Brace’s sale, and once at Mr Prendergast’s. He supposed Mr Bruce did not disapprove of his attendance at the former sale, as he asked him to buy a boiler he had there. Mr Cochrane said he had told Sir Proudlock that an enquiry would be made by the Board of Education into his conduct, and he believed he said that he was quit© agreeable. The schoolroom had not been cleaned for months together. He had no malice against Mr Proudlock, but he was elected by the householders, and was doing what he thought his duty to them. If he had done a wrong he had dene it in ignorance. Mr Proudlock said he believed that was the case. When one of his books was missing, and he enquired about it, he was told “Oh ! the Committee have it in use.” Mr Bruce told him the book was the property of the Committee, and he replied that he (Mr Bruce) must not do that again. He was not going to be interfered with while conducting the school. Mr Bruce then ordered him out of the school-room. With regard to the money from the sale of books, when he sold for cash, he put the money aside just as a shop keeper puts the cash taken into the till; where he sold on credit, he entered it in his books. When he first came here the Committee were in financial difficulties, and Mr Bruce asked him if he would bring a certain number of his own books with him, and then creditbis account with them. He (Mr Proudlock) said he would try to arrange. He did so, and sold some of the books, and the Committee then wanted him to hand the money to them, and he refused to do so. He brought some of these books from his school at Weedon’s, bought part in Christchurch, and part from Mr Binstead. The Committee said they would not pay his account until he produced receipts for the money he said ho had paid for them. What business was that of theirs ? He had not stolen them.

In reply to Mr Holmes, Mr Proudlock said that if anybody took away any of the Committee's property he could not bo responsible. There was no secure place to keep it in. He could open the closet with his penknife. In reply to another question, Mr Proudlock said he had lost several books. He did not say the children had stolen them. Mr Holmes said Mr Proudlock had searched the children like thieves. Mr Proudlock said he had searched the children, but not like thieves. He had found some books, pens, etc., missing, and if he could discover the offenders he would give them a good thrashing. Mr Holmes asked whose those books were after they were bought. His little girl had bought a book and was not allowed to bring it home. Mr Proudlock said that if a drawingbook or copy-book was bought he would not allow it to be taken home by children until it was finished. It was against the rules, and the children would only soil the books. [Mr Proudlock here produced his memorandum book and read out several entries to show that all parents were charged for books, etc., at the same rate.] Respecting the giving of holidays, Mr Proudlock said he had given none except those allowed by the Act. If the Committee resolved to set aside those, he should take no notice of their resolution. Mr Bruce said that no one expected Mr Proudlock to attend the school on the J Queen’s Birthday or a similar holiday*

What the Committee objected to was that he should be absent at a sale, and that be gave a holiday on Easter Monday, and also that he had given the children a holiday for the Exhibition on a Friday, when the following day (Saturday) would have done just as well. In reply to Mr Holmes, who said that Mr Proudlock had dismissed 24 or 25 children on one day, Mr Proudlock explained that it was wet in the morning, though fine in the afternoon. On another occasion he sent them away because the wind blew the smoke into the room, so that it was not habitable. Mr 'Bruce said that the Board of Education had put up a cowl over the chimney, and it had been blown down. He had asked Mr Proudlock to put it on again, and he had refused, because he said it made so much noise.

Mr Proudlock said that if it were put up he hoped it would be blown down again. He did not intend to have it put up. The Committee ought to make the room habitable. Mr Leatham said that Mr Proudlock had already told them that Mr Bruce had a down on him, and that he had a down on Mr Bruce. His letters to the Committee also had been most impertinent. After some further altercation,

Mr J. Keir proposed—“ That the Board of Education be requested by this meeting to accept the resignation of the dissatisfied members of Committee, and that this meeting is satisfied with the conduct of the master. ” Mr Greenaway seconded the motion, which was put and carried unanimously. On the motion of Mr Keir, seconded by Mr Hoatten, it was resolved—“ That the Chairman be requested to forward a copy of the resolution to the Board of Education.”

After a vote of thanks to the Chairman, the meeting closed.

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Bibliographic details

ELGIN SCHOOL COMMITTEE., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 407, 28 July 1881

Word Count

ELGIN SCHOOL COMMITTEE. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 407, 28 July 1881

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