Complaint about the decision of a Board of Trustees to compulsorily charge for curriculum-related items
The complainant is a parent of secondary school students. In 2011, the complainant raised concerns the school was imposing compulsory charges for:
food items; and
The complainant drew to the school’s attention the provisions of section 3 of the Education Act 1989 which guarantees the provision of a free education, complaining that the charges contravened it. The complainant further relied on the Ministry of Education’s Education circular 1998/25: Payments by parents of students at state schools (the circular) which provides guidance on the payments schools may require.
My conclusion is that, in imposing compulsory charges for workbooks and any other curriculum-related materials, the Board of Trustees:
has acted in a manner that appears to have been contrary to law as its actions contravene section 3 of the Education Act 1989.
has acted unreasonably in this matter, in that it is refusing to apply the advice of the Ministry as set out in Education circular 1998/25; and has charged the complainant for curriculum-related material that he was lawfully entitled to have provided to his children free of charge.
 This was the Ministry’s relevant circular at the time of the request (2011). The Ministry has recently issued a fresh circular confirming the Ministry’s guidance re voluntary payments by parents at state schools (2013). Available at: www.minedu.govt.nz/NZEducation/EducationPolicies/Schools/PublicationsAndResources/Circulars/2013/Circular201306.aspx