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'Unreasonable OIA request delays' from Helensville Primary School

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Helensville Primary School Board of Trustees continue to withhold information requested under the Official Information Act.

It has been 245 days since Regan Cunliffe made a request under the Official Information Act to Helensville Primary School Board of Trustees and 183 days since Board chair Daniel Makin responded that the information requested was "to follow".

In early May 2018, Mr Cunliffe requested information from the Board in relation to a late evening camp meeting that Mr Makin drove two hours to speak at. The Board responded just shy of the statutory 20 working days, refusing to provide the information by claiming that there was no meeting and instead referring to it as an "informal discussion".

In June 2018, Mr Cunliffe requested all the notes and documents that were in possession of Mr Makin during that "informal discussion", in particular, those contained within the folder that he was holding at the time.

A complaint was laid with the Ombudsman in July after the Board did not respond within the 20 statutory working days.

In August, the Board responded to the request by stating that the information was "to follow". However, the Board did not provide the notes and documents. A further complaint was laid with the Ombudsman in October.

"I have been seeking information about the camp meeting since May," said Mr Cunliffe. "Being forced to use the OIA process to get information that should have been readily and willingly made available to me is disgraceful enough," he said, "but for the Board to then fail to meet the deadline defies belief. To withhold the information that was promised for as long as they have goes directly against the tenets of transparency and availability of information through the Official Information Act."

"Where is the good faith in this secretive approach? What is the Board trying to hide? That the Board continues to hide behind information gatekeeping arouses deep suspicion that something is not right here," he continued.

In November, Helensville Primary School parents were informed that the Board had co-opted David Munro; he now chairs a committee dealing with Board correspondence. He has 30 years of experience in industrial relations, school boards and is a senior advocate for the NZRDA who are currently involved with the junior doctors’ strike action.

"It is a shame that these issues remain unresolved as the new school year begins despite the extensive support the Board has been receiving from the Ministry of Education and NZSTA," Mr Cunliffe added.

Mr Cunliffe has laid multiple additional complaints with the Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner in relation to the Helensville Primary School Board of Trustees and is awaiting their resolution.

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