NZ Herald Feb 07, 2009
Schools are under fire for forcing parents to pay voluntary fees – and punishing children whose parents don’t pay up. But an East Auckland principal says free education is a fallacy and parents should feel pressured to contribute. The Weekend Herald has obtained documents under the Official Information Act revealing cases brought to the attention of the Education Minister. They include complaints of voluntary donations being chased up by school boards using “bullying tactics”, optional expenses being deemed “compulsory” and schools breaching the Education Act by singling out students whose parents did not pay. One Auckland school employed an agency to call parents at home and urge them to pay.
…Under the Education Act 1989, every person who is not a foreign student is entitled to free enrolment and free education at a state school from their fifth birthday until January 1 following their 19th birthday. But schools argue they could not function without top-up donations from parents. Education Minister Anne Tolley told the Weekend Herald that schools could not force parents to provide voluntary donations. But she said such contributions help many schools to provide a wider range of educational experiences for their students. School Trustees Association president Lorraine Kerr said it was no secret that government funding was inadequate – in many cases it was lost on administration, power, water and rates.