Five schools un­law­fully ask­ing for fees

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - DILEEPA FONSEKA

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.’’

PETER MEECHAM

22102015 News Photo: Peter Meecham/ Fair­fax NZ Auck­land Gram­mar School Auck­land sec­ondary school generic file ed­u­ca­tion

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