Ombudsman investigating Education Ministry

The Ombudsman is investigating the Education Ministry for withholding information about the overhaul of Christchurch schools.

Ombudsman David McGee formally advised the Secretary for Education, Lesley Longstone, about his decision yesterday.

The ministry announced proposals in September to close 13 schools and put 26 through some form of merger.

Since the initial announcement, the ministry has refused formal and informal requests for information, from schools, parents, politicians and the media.

McGee received five complaints last month that the ministry had refused requests for information under the Official Information Act.

He will investigate three specific matters:

- That the ministry advised the Christchurch City Council to refuse a request for official information on the basis that the information was not held by the council when the ministry knew that it was held.

- That the ministry advised a requester to withdraw a request for official information, suggesting that if he did so he would receive the information sooner.

- That a number of requests for official information were refused, at least in part, on the basis that the information concerned would eventually be made public in any case.

The Press