Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The expected response

Back in June, the NZEI gave schools blatantly unlawful advice to refuse OIA requests for National Standards results. This has now drawn the expected response: a reminder to schools from the Ombudsman of their legal duties:

Dame Beverley said the advice NZEI had offered "conflicted" with that provided by the New Zealand School Trustees Association.

"In my view boards of trustees are entitled to rely on the advice conveyed by the NZSTA. However, boards that rely on the advice conveyed by the NZEI risk an adverse finding being made against them by an Ombudsman under the [law]," she said.

Schools that had acted, or were considering acting, "in accordance with the NZEI advice" should reconsider, she said.

Those that continued to refuse or extend release of information would face an investigation, which "may find that a board has acted unreasonably or contrary to the law".

The question now is whether the schools will accept this reminder. The problem is that there's no real penalties for ignoring a recommendation from the Ombudsman; the system relies essentially on shame to do its job. But that may not be enough to motivate school boards to obey the law.