Five schools unlawfully asking for fees
A practice which has seen schools in Auckland request donations from parents seeking a spot for their child has been called unlawful.
Five schools - Auckland Grammar School, Mount Albert Grammar School, Epsom Girls’ Grammar School, Kohia Terrace School and Cornwall Park District School - used tick boxes on enrolment checklists and administrative fees to pressure parents outside of school zones to donate before their children were considered for a place.
In a report released on Tuesday by the auditor-general it was concluded any request for a donation in connection with outof-zone places was unlawful.
The practice came about as schools considered out-of-zone applicants through an independently supervised ballot.
Auckland Grammar, Mount Albert Grammar School and Epsom Girls’ Grammar schools asked parents for a donation towards the cost of administering the ballot.
On its website Auckland Grammar asked for a donation of $50 and provided an enrolment checklist with a tick-box for ‘‘donations’’ then requested applicants ‘‘ensure all sections of the application form are completed’’.
Auckland Grammar told the auditor-general the cost of enforcing its school zone was $86,000 a year and a $50 donation by out-ofzone applicants funded 37 per cent of those costs.
Mount Albert Grammar zone also listed a donation on its checklist but did not include a tick-box, and Epsom Girls’ Gram- mar School included a tick-box but used language consistent with the payment being voluntary.
Kohia Terrace School and Cornwall Park District School charged out-of-zone application administrative fees of $20 and $75. Kohia Terrace School included the requirement above birth and immunisation certificates on its list of required items.
Cornwall Park District School refunded the fee after it was contacted by the Ministry of Education.
Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins said donations used to be the icing on the cake for schools but funding pressures meant they had become essential.
‘‘I think that it’s pretty concerning that some schools are using all sorts of underhanded ways to try and put pressure on parents to pay more for schooling that’s supposed to be free, I don’t think that that’s right.’’
22102015 News Photo: Peter Meecham/ Fairfax NZ Auckland Grammar School Auckland secondary school generic file education