Declined request for dispensation regarding school Transport Entitlement Zone

Ombudsmen Act 1975
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Ombudsmen Act 1975
Board of Trustees
Leo Donnelly
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A family asked the Board of Trustees (the Board) of School A for dispensation to allow their child to access bus services to attend School B. The Board refused the family’s request, and on the same date resolved to adopt a policy refusing in principle to grant any such future Transport Entitlement Zone (TEZ) request. The Board’s previous policy had allowed TEZ requests to be considered on a case by case basis.

The Ombudsman acknowledged the Board’s concerns about balancing the needs of the school community against those in the wider community who might seek dispensation to access network bus services and travel through the school’s TEZ. However, he concluded that the Board’s policy was unreasonable as it did not permit the individual circumstances of a family to be considered, and improperly fettered the discretion of the Board by predetermining the outcome of any TEZ request.

The Ombudsman formed the opinion that TEZ Bus Policy created by the Board was unreasonable, and that the Board’s decision in respect of the family’s request was unreasonably coloured by the adoption of the ‘refusal in principle’ policy at the same meeting in which the family’s request was considered.

The Ombudsman suggested that the Board should reconsider the family’s request under its previous ‘case by case’ policy, and amend its TEZ Bus Policy to reflect that the Board would consider relevant ‘exceptional circumstances’ raised by a family. The Board agreed to the Ombudsman’s proposal, and in those circumstances it was not necessary for the Ombudsman to make a recommendation.

This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.


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