Unpopular principal at Auckland's McAuley High School 'on leave' after mass protest

The Ministry of Education is considering statutory intervention for a decile one Catholic girls school in South Auckland.

McAuley High School's principal has been placed on leave after parents and students started staging sit-ins at board meetings.

Students cheered and sang on Thursday after being told new principal Xanthe Sulzberger, who was appointed this year, wouldn't be around for a while.

She's so unpopular that students have been protesting for months, telling Newshub Ms Sulzberger had left their Samoan language course without an appropriate teacher.

Their parents joined in, with 200 people flooding a Board of Trustees meeting for a peaceful sit-in.

Outside the school, students told Newshub that Ms Sulzberger had been "stood down" - but the Board of Trustees isn't using that exact language. 

Board chair Jo Tongotea told Newshub the principal is "on leave". She said while the employment matter is sorted out, a replacement very familiar with the school had been brought in.

Newshub understands that replacement is popular former principal Ann Miles, who ran the school for 14 years.  

The Ministry of Education says it has concerns about the operation of the school and is considering mandatory support, including statutory intervention.

That gives the Ministry plenty of options, ranging from simply forcing the board to provide information to dissolving the board and appointing a commissioner to run the school.

The students' exams begin on Monday, and the Board hopes they can stay focused on those, rather than the controversy over their principal.