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  • Report on a complaint against the Southern Institute of Technology by six former students

    Systemic investigations
    In December 2002 I received a complaint by six former students of the Southern Institute of Technology, (the Institute), who in 1999 had been enrolled in the National Certificate in Social Services programme conducted by it.
  • Charge for provision of information regarding trade negotiations

    Case notes
    Request for information on current GATS round—charge levied—GATS a matter of substantial public interest—information sought for research which would ultimately be made publicly available—release would promote informed public debate—charge found to be unreasonable—recommendation to waive charge accepted
  • Technical Institute required to amend student records when course cancelled

    Case notes
    Students enrolled in a two stage course to obtain a Certificate of Security were informed the second half was cancelled shortly before it was to commence—Technical Institute explored various options including notifying on the relevant academic records that students had ‘withdrawn’—students complained notation, course cancellation and lack of certification was unreasonable—Institute explained to Ombudsman that certificate registration was in train, the timing of the tutor’s resignation left it with few options but it was willing to explore these with students—Institute acknowledged it cancelled the course but current system did not have ‘cancellation of course’ as an option—Institute willing to review system and remove course from student records—Ombudsman satisfied that Institute acted reasonably to provide students with other options, certificates forthcoming and removing course from records would resolve complaint
  • School Board of Trustees and Principal’s decision to suspend student not consistent with principles of natural justice

    Case notes
    Suspended student’s parents complained about the conduct of his suspension—Ombudsman’s jurisdiction confined to the process followed by the Board—parties disputed duration of Principal’s interview with student, ability of Principal to contact parents about suspension and comments allegedly made to the student by the Principal during the interview—Ombudsman’s investigation unable to resolve these issues and no determination as to reasonableness of Board’s actions able to be made—Ombudsman satisfied that Principal’s request for student to write down his account of incident in accordance with principles of natural justice—however Ombudsman found Board acted unreasonably by dismissing parents’ concerns about Principal’s decision to interview student in absence of parents—Board acknowledged Principal’s decision not consistent with principles of natural justice and agreed to review its ‘Interviewing of Students’ policy—no formal recommendation made
  • Request for Consultative Draft District Plan

    Case notes
    Consultative Draft District Plan refused under s 7(2)(f)(i)—information did not meet requirements of that section—no statutory prohibition in Resource Management Act which prevents information being made available before the date of notification—Resource Management Act 1991, s 35(2)
  • Charge for extracting information from Housing New Zealand’s database

    Case notes
    Estimate of charges to extract specific information from database—reasonableness of charge—absence of appropriately qualified staff—need to contract systems analyst—revised estimate provided—charge not unreasonable
  • School Board of Trustees agrees to address significant deficiencies in suspension procedure

    Case notes
    Suspension and expulsion of student where several significant deficiencies were identified in the procedures of the Board’s disciplinary committee led to the Board of Trustees agreeing to review its procedures and apologise to student and family—the Board also amended student’s records to show the suspension decision was invalid—the Board’s willingness to address its deficiencies were notable in this case (Board members were all new to the role)
  • New Zealand Customs Service questioned over acceptance of deposit pursuant to legislation

    Case notes
    Refusal to pay interest following resolution of dispute over Customs value of goods—whether relevant documentation provided at the time of importation—whether s 140 of the Customs Act 1966 (repealed) conferred authority on Department to take deposit—investigation discontinued following discovery that company did not exist as legal entity at the time complaint was made
  • School Board of Trustee and Principal failed to follow disciplinary process; contrary to law

    Case notes
    School Board of Trustees fails to follow statutory criteria for suspension of student (failure to provide guidance and counselling)—suspending a student is a serious step requiring careful consideration—the Ombudsman’s investigation of a wide-ranging complaint by a mother about the manner in which a school had dealt with various aspects of her two sons’ behaviour, culminating in the indefinite suspension of one of her sons, highlighted the need for Principals and Boards of Trustees to familiarise themselves thoroughly with the procedural requirements of s 13 of the Education Act 1989
  • Department of Corrections should explain reasons for declining application to be excused from PD reporting

    Case notes
    Refusal of application to be excused from reporting for periodic detention—incomplete explanation given at the time—reasons and apology provided—Criminal Justice Act 1985, s 41(3)
  • Department of Corrections required to advise decision on day parole application

    Case notes
    Failure to advise inmate of decision on application for day parole—prison administration expected inmate to ask Case officer for outcome—responsibility for advising the outcome of a request/application normally rests with decision-maker—internal procedures changed to reflect normal practice
  • Department of Corrections reasonably held inmate in segregation

    Case notes
    Unreasonable placement of inmate on precautionary segregation—written material found in his cell which reflected on the safety of prison staff—placement not deemed unreasonable
  • Request for details of risk management processes

    Case notes
    Request for details of risk management processes—relevant documents provided apart from the ‘risk register’—register consisted of free and frank expressions of opinion—release might undermine risk management strategy—public interest met by release of Risk Management Policy
  • Department of Conservation resolves impasse concerning ivory-key piano held by New Zealand Customs

    Case notes
    Refusal to release piano imported from United Kingdom—family heirloom from 1920s—need for approval of Department of Conservation under CITES because of ivory content—conflict between New Zealand legislation implementing CITES and European Community Regulations—impasse resolved by acceptance of statutory declaration by family—conflict to be raised with CITES Secretariat