Yipirinya School principal locked out


p2205-Yipirinya-school-2By ERWIN CHLANDA
The principal of the Aboriginal Yipirinya School, Ken Langford-Smith, has been locked out of its grounds in Lovegrove Drive, following a decision by the school committee.
Its president of two years standing, Ulbunda David Kriss, a tourism operator well known in the industry as Jungala, says the decision was made on December 28.
He says committee members were angry about the dismissal by Mr Langford-Smith of staff at the end of the 2014 school year.
Mr Kriss says the principal has been stood down on full pay, pending a meeting at 4pm tomorrow.
In the meantime he has been barred from acting as principal, engaging someone else as principal, speaking to staff and committee members.
The locks have been changed and there are security personnel at the gate of the school as non-teaching staff are returning to work today.
If Mr Langford-Smith were to enter the school he would be trespassing, says Mr Kriss.
He says the initial deadline to answer questions given to Mr Langford-Smith was January 12 but this has been extended upon his request.
p2205-Kriss-JungalaMr Kriss (pictured) says an investigation is now under way into the roles of Mr Langford-Smith in the management of the school.
Mr Kriss says the matters are being “handled in legal and proper manner.
“Mr Langford-Smith has a fair chance to answer allegations.”
Mr Langford-Smith is on a flight from interstate. We offered him the right of reply, speaking to him before departure a short while ago.
File photo: Security guard at the closed gate of the school today.
UPDATE 1:40pm: Mr Langford-Smith, again offered the right of reply by the Alice Springs News Online, said he had been advised by legal counsel not to talk to the media.


  1. Yipirinya is an anomaly in being a tax payer funded “family run” school.
    Family members have expectations on the principal and are annoyed when they are not met.
    Former principal Di Devere fell foul of that and was dismissed.
    Unfortunately, Mr Langford-Smith has no moral ground to take now because he entered into the “family” patronage culture by employing his own close family member in a position he was not qualified to fulfil.
    He was quite open about the appointment and defended it on the grounds that Yirpirinya is a “family” school.
    What goes around …

  2. I hope this is the start of renewal for the school which has lost its vision, over the last few years, through the lack of quality educational leadership.
    It once was a school that was exemplary in its education of Aboriginal students by fostering literacy and numeracy in both local Aboriginal languages and in English – true two way learning.
    When I worked there I was amazed at the quality educational resources that had been developed for teaching Aboriginal language and culture but over the last 10 years or so this leadership in Aboriginal education has languished under the current leadership.
    I encourage the council to seek a new Principal who will again foster exemplary Aboriginal education.

  3. Mr Langford-Smith has for many years been a dedicated and conscientious employee of the Yipirinya School.
    It would be safe to say that no other member of the school staff or council has worked as hard and as long as Ken Langford-Smith to maintain the quality and standard of education for its students.
    Should he leave, he will be sorely missed.
    It will not be the staff or the School Council members who suffer from his departure, but the students for whom he has laboured in such an exemplary fashion.

  4. I am offended and appalled by this defamatory article – as I believe will a great many Alice Springs residents as this story unfolds.
    Never has Yipirinya School had such a dedicated and effective principal.
    Ken has raised SO much money for the school over the years to enable it to INCREASE its profile, and EMBED its vision (contrary to what Kngarai says – and it’s clear to me who this is!).
    Who else would spend their Sunday afternoons visiting camps to ensure the children had at least one meal over the weekend?
    Peters – never has a man been MORE moral than Ken – his son WAS employed as a casual staff member – and worked tirelessly for the good of the school.
    This is a sad sad day for Alice Springs and I look forward to the day he is reinstated – and he WILL be.
    Shame on you Jungala – shame shame shame.

  5. This is a quote from the Alice Springs News Dec 2006 (link after the quote).
    The report says the teaching qualifications of the person accused of bullying have been the subject of “recurring complaints raised by most who gave evidence”.
    He was given interim registration by the NT Teacher Registration Board “but failed to gain the requirements of full registration, and has had his registration withdrawn”.
    “The principal, when questioned about the allegation regarding his son’s qualifications, responded that in his opinion, dedication to the job and being able to get on with the students was of more importance than professional qualifications. A piece of paper is meaningless – it’s experience that counts.”
    Says Ms Rolley: “Kids at Yipirinya are entitled to have properly qualified, registered teachers.
    “I understand that [the unregistered teacher] is still working at the school, presumably not in a teaching position.”

  6. So, Peters, if there was an issue with Ken in 2006 how come the council still let him continue on in the role for another nine years?
    Either there is something very wrong with the council or there were no grounds for the allegations – wow – now there’s a thought – which sounds incredibly recent! It doesn’t take a PhD (even a Mickey Mouse one) to work that one out, hey!
    Sadly next Tuesday is going to open with a great many heart broken children when they realise that four of their most loved teachers are not at school to greet them – all because of one man’s ego (and we are not talking Ken here, hey Jungala!)
    What an incredibly sad era for Yipirinya School. I repeat – Shame Shame Shame.

  7. Milly, I would suggest there is something fundamentally wrong in a school where the board and the principal can do things that would not be countenanced in any other school in the NT.
    The problem is that this is a family school.
    Fine if the family want to pay for the school, in that case they can employ their relatives and pay them whether they work or not or fund the principal’s son, if they so choose.
    But this is a school that depends for most of its funding on the tax payer, millions on dollars of taxes pay for the workers who don’t turn up for work but demand payment or else. Is the “or else” currently under way?
    That is the underlying problem here and it has been known about for many years but governments have been too cowardly to tackle it.

  8. I did a bit of work at Yipirinya School last year and was very disappointed in the food provided for the students on a daily basis.
    The parents pay $47 or close to per fortnight for the nutrition program which is supposed to offer healthy meals for these children.
    I was shocked to see the kids being fed just a single piece of fruit for recess and a hot stew for lunch.
    I then asked students and a few staff members what they thought about the meals and got the same reply each time “we don’t like it but that’s all the cook makes”.
    Students and staff have confronted the cook on several occasions asking for just sandwiches and salads and juice but he just ignores them and makes the same stews.
    I say get a new-age cook in to give these children the good healthy food their parents are paying for.

  9. A few years ago I had the privilege of visiting Yipirinya school and meeting some of the teaching staff, including Mr Langford Smith.
    The school’s progress since then reflects a great deal of hard work and dedication by many people, and there is no doubt that great strides have been made for the children’s benefit since Mr Langford Smith took over as headmaster.
    It is difficult to imagine the school and the children without such an able and dedicated head.
    The council should be grateful and he should be praised, not locked out!

  10. What a shame, that one who has done so much for people and children in the town camps and for Alice generally, would now be so “locked out”!
    As always, it’s the small and often forgotten ones who will most suffer in this – the very kids and families of the town whom Jungala and others purport to serve.
    To lock Mr Langford out, along with others who have cared so deeply for the school over many, many years (longer possibly than Jungala has been alive!) speaks volumes about the current board’s dysfunction.
    I fear for the future of the school under its current governance. Most importantly, Yipirinya, which has been a beacon of hope for education in the “heart” of our nation seems now at risk of being extinguished, and Australians all will be the poorer for it!
    Jungala – swallow some contrition, see with the eyes of a true desert elder, and help re-build the peace!
    For the good of all, and especially those who least have a voice, but have most to gain (or lose) through your current posturing.

  11. And Jungala Kriss denies he spoke to the Alice Springs News Online. So which of you is telling the truth? I’d hazard a guess it might be Erwin Chlanda?


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