Row brewing over attendance dues for integrated schools

A disagreement over the right of integrated schools to charge parents for the cost of collecting money from them is heading to court.

Education officials are clamping down on charging practices at taxpayer-funded integrated schools, with at least one school told to return a bond parents have been required to pay.

This coming term $4000-a-year Bethlehem College in Tauranga is refunding a $500 attendance dues bond it has charged all its families for years, after the Ministry of Education ruled it was unlawful.

Education Minister Anne Tolley has also expressed concern that a leasing arrangement between the school and its owner, the Christian Education Trust (CET), enables it to get around the integrated schools legislation.

The Association of Proprietors of Integrated Schools says the Ministry of Education wants its members to stop including collection fees in the attendance dues they charge for the upkeep of school property.

Collection fees range from 2% – 6% of the attendance dues, some of which are more than $2000 per year.

The association says it has legal advice the fees are okay.

It says the two organisations have agreed to seek a High Court judgement on the matter and the case is likely to be heard in three or four months.


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