School shows inadequacy of zoning law
"The law will be tightened up by Labour in government to ensure that schools which have enrolment schemes must include a home zone," Trevor Mallard said.
"The current trouble which Auckland Grammar is spearheading proves Labour's long-held argument that changes made by the National Government to the legislation were not properly drafted and fell well short of guaranteeing children access to their neighbourhood schools.
"But at the time, National Ministers were more concerned with satisfying the rather flaky demands of Christine Fletcher than developing fair legislation to give children right of access to neighbourhood schools.
"Labour's concern was the changes still put schools' choice above parents' choice. A school could develop an enrolment scheme which gave them the right to accept a child from across town with great sporting or academic ability rather than an average plodder who lived around the corner.
"Auckland Grammar is proving that our concerns were valid. The school is, in effect, sticking two fingers up at the Minister of Education. While its enrolment scheme may meet the letter of the law, it is certainly against the spirit of it.
"Labour will tighten up the law in time for planning for the 2001 year and I urge Auckland schools to be patient until then. We will never force children to attend their neighbourhood schools - but they must the right if that is their choice.
"Labour will require schools that need enrolment schemes to define their local 'home zone' and to comply with specified criteria for filling any available places after local children have been accepted. Where neighbouring schools require home zones, they will be required to be contiguous so that no children are left without rights of access to a local school.
"We will require schools enrolling students from outside the home zone to operate a priority system so that once students from within the home zone have been enrolled, remaining places are filled first by siblings of students currently enrolled at the school, and then by siblings of students previously enrolled at the school
"If there is competition for these places, or if there are still places left after students in the priority categories have been accepted, then the school will hold a ballot under the supervision of a Justice of the Peace.
"It would be logistically impossible
to satisfy all families in all cases. But what Labour is
proposing is a transparent system that will not put schools
choice above parents choice," Trevor Mallard