A top Auckland high school is threatening to withhold students’ end-of-year reports if parents refuse to cough up for school-related fees.
Auckland Grammar’s tough stance has outraged one parent, who accuses the school of bullying tactics during a cost-of-living crisis.
Headmaster Tim O’Connor did not respond to requests for comment, but in an email to parents on Friday warned if school-related fees remained unpaid by December 5, the student’s name would be entered onto the school’s defaulters’ list.
“Parents in this situation will not receive a final report for their son.
“It is our preference not to be reactionary as the [school] term concludes, thus the open nature of this communication,” O’Connor’s email said.
He stressed the policy did not relate to voluntary school donations, but rather ‘school-related’ fees, which include departmental charges such as workbooks, extra-curricular charges such as sporting trips, school shop charges and Cambridge examination fees.
A parent of a student at the Epsom school, who emailed the Herald, believed the school’s stance was hardline and unnecessary.
The parent felt the email was “the most recent incident in a long line of bullying tactics to get parents to do as they want”.
“This doesn’t directly affect me as I can afford to pay, unlike some other parents, who in this cost-of-living crisis are struggling to meet their basic needs.
“The Grammar way in my opinion is to threaten and bully.
“When a child has worked hard all year how can you threaten not to reflect their input in a report because their parents can’t afford to pay a workbook fee.”
Isabel Evans, Ministry of Education Hautū (leader) Te Tai Raro (North), said schools were Crown entities and therefore self-governing.
The ministry had received no formal complaints from Grammar parents, Evans said, but would respond if concerns were raised.
The parent also alleged other hardline tactics by the school, most notably during the Covid-19 lockdown at the end of 2021.
“I was uncomfortable sending my children back to school during the height of the pandemic but Grammar said, ‘If you don’t send your child back then we are going to fail him for the year.
“So I had to go get a doctor’s certificate to give to Auckland Grammar to have his grades amended.”
The parent also alleged several teachers refused to teach students if their hair length was considered too long.
Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti said: “I do really feel for the kids that are stuck in the middle of this.”
She encouraged people to follow the complaint processes.