14 Feb 2013

Govt questioned over plan to exclude charter schools

9:33 pm on 14 February 2013

The Labour Party has questioned the Government over its desire to exempt charter schools from being subject to the Official Information Act.

The Education and Science select committee began hearing submissions on Wednesday on the Education Amendment Bill that will introduce the publicly-funded private schools.

If passed, it will create charter, or partnership schools, and water down schools' right to conduct drug searches.

The bill exempts charter schools from the Ombudsman's Act and the Official Information Act, but Dame Beverley Wakem told the select committee that is unconstitutional.

The Government intends to have charter schools open by the start of the next school year. The National Party agreed to establish charter schools under its support deal with ACT.

In Parliament on Thursday, Labour's deputy leader Grant Robertson asked ACT leader John Banks who is the Associate Minister of Education and chief proponent of charter schools, why they should be less accountable to parents and communities than other schools.

Mr Banks said charter schools are not Crown entities and will have robust contracts with the Ministry of Education.

The Secretary of Education can request any information from charter schools, and that information will be subject to the act, he said.