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Helensville Primary School Board refuses OIA requests

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Helensville Primary School’s Board of Trustees has now formally refused to provide every single outstanding OIA request filed by Regan Cunliffe, a parent of two children at the school.

The refused OIA requests include the school's financial accounts, and the amount the school has spent on consultants, public relations, lawyers, and private investigators during the period of the dispute Mr Cunliffe and his wife Rachel have had with the Board. Mr Cunliffe also requested information about the resignation from the Board by a long-standing member and serving police officer following a failed mediation.

Board member David Munro, co-opted on NZSTA’s request to address the outstanding communications and OIA requests, said on Friday he was "completely frustrated" in his attempts to satisfy the OIA’s in part due to the Cunliffes’ refusal to meet with him.

"Our last face-to-face meeting with the Board was in a mediation and resulted in a complaint being raised with the Privacy Commissioner," said Mr Cunliffe. "We felt completely betrayed. Despite this breakdown in trust, we offered Mr Munro the opportunity to rebuild trust with us by answering some simple questions in good faith about his relationship with the Board. We requested the information be provided in writing. It was not provided," he added.

"Along with myself, many of my colleagues in journalism use the OIA to obtain information for the purposes of holding those in public office to account," said Mr Cunliffe. "Requiring a meeting in person is not a condition to releasing official information and would set a dangerous precedent," he added.

Mr Munro said that his frustration in attempting to satisfy the OIA's was also due to the Cunliffes’ refusal to engage with him "in any other meaningful way".

However the Board, the Ministry of Education, NZSTA, and the Office of the Ombudsman have all repeatedly been made aware of the Cunliffes’ continued willingness to provide clarification in writing for any of their OIA requests.

"For Mr Munro to suggest that we have refused to engage with him in ‘any other meaningful way’ is disingenuous at best, or else just deliberately misleading," said Mr Cunliffe.

Mr Munro wrote, "I am now forced to conclude that you and Rachel are being deliberately obdurate and unhelpful in your dealings with Helensville Primary School Board of Trustees. Given that approach by you it is not possible for us in any reasonable way to assist you with your concerns."

Mr Munro 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.

The Ombudsman and Ministry of Education have been informed of Helensville Primary School’s Board refusing all outstanding OIA requests.

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