Labour refers ballot fees to Auditor General

Labour today asked the Auditor-General to investigate the legality of state schools charging fees for students to go into out-of-zone enrolment ballots, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“Three Auckland schools have now acknowledged engaging in this practice and it could be much more widespread.

“Two of the schools involved have argued these fees are donations, and therefore they can legitimately continue to request them. There are also anecdotal reports that some parents believe they will be disadvantaged by not paying this fee.

“Schools were warned by the Ministry of Education earlier this month that they: ‘cannot charge families a fee to enter a child into the ballot for out-of-zone places’.

“The right to a free education is enshrined in law. It is patently unfair that some parents are being charged a fee to participate in a ballot which is a normal activity for school staff.

“With 41 per cent of all state schools being in deficit, this is further proof of the financial strain they are under because of Government underfunding.

“I have asked the Auditor-General to consider whether this practice undermines the longstanding Kiwi value that all children must have equal opportunities.

“Labour believes in free education. That’s why we will give every New Zealander, who hasn’t had tertiary education, three free years of post-school study or training throughout their lives,” Chris Hipkins says.