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Old 13th February 2012, 13:39     #1
Ab
A mariachi ogre snorkel
 
OIA Adventures: NZ School Formals and Homophobia

Fascinating blog post from Matthew Taylor. After St Patrick's in Welly banned a gay kid from taking his boyfriend to the school ball, Taylor emailed an OIA info request to a bunch of schools asking about their same-sex-partner policy (if any).

http://www.matthewtaylor.co.nz/2012/...d-homophobia/#
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Old 13th February 2012, 14:08     #2
Juju
get to da choppa
 
Here I was reading it to see what the replies were with the schools that did give him the information, but instead it was his holier-than-thou, I know more about the OIA than you do, wankish going on about how the schools responded to his overly aggresive email.

Anyone that would actually use the OIA for it's intended purpose (Actual research where they publish/research the results of the query and not the personal responses to the method the query was asked) would have happily answered the logical questions most of the schools asked ("Who are you?") in a polite and civilised manner.

The guy seems a complete dick.

Edit: So he says he will release the actual responses to the request in the coming weeks. I Still don't see the need or point of this blog post.

Last edited by Juju : 13th February 2012 at 14:10.
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Old 13th February 2012, 14:15     #3
[WanG] Wandarah
 
How do the schools know he is a) in New Zealand, or b) a New Zealand citizen overseas?

*fears cyc beating...*

Last edited by [WanG] Wandarah : 13th February 2012 at 14:18.
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Old 13th February 2012, 14:17     #4
Farmer Joe
Word To Your Motherboard!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Juju
The guy seems a complete dick.
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Old 13th February 2012, 14:22     #5
[WanG] Wandarah
 
I quite like this:

Alan Liddle from Te Puke High School: “Thank you for your enquiry. Our policies are available to the public on our website www.tepuke.school.nz” [response to same-sex question below]
My response: “Thanks for your reply. What is your policy on after/before ball parties?”
Alan: “As mentioned in my previous email our policies are on our website. Help yourself.”
My response: “I searched the site for ball policy, with no results.”
Alan: “Well done and therefore your conclusion will be…
Sent from my iPhone”

Hehe!
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Old 13th February 2012, 15:29     #6
chiQ
Frag-muff
 
It was like he was deliberately setting them up to fail his little test.
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Old 13th February 2012, 15:32     #7
leadinjector
 
seems like an easy to answer fairly legit question to me. also seems like most of the schools are cagey about it, and i assume thats because most of them dont like to admit they run a homophobic establishment.
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Old 13th February 2012, 16:01     #8
ChaosWulf
Don't worry, be harpy
 
Many evasive manoeuvres from the schools, but then I'd have been an asshole too if he'd written that imperious crap to me.
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Old 13th February 2012, 16:01     #9
Juju
get to da choppa
 
I would more lean to the side that they didn't want to give away internal documents to a random internet guy who didn't want to explain anything about his request other than "I want it".
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Old 13th February 2012, 16:04     #10
[Malks] Pixie
 
As someone who's been involved in OIA's (both receiving and giving ends of them) I don't see anything wrong with the email that he sent out. It provides a relevant question(s), highlights the fact that it is an OIA request (even if this is just in the subject line), states who he is and thanks the recipients in advance. Nothing agressive in either of the two main emails that I can see there - some of his follow up emails could have been solved in an easier and more personable manner though.

Sadly the responses he received intially (as I'm assuming that eventually most of the schools complied with the request) is pretty par for the course - in particular within the education sector.

Wandarah raised the only thing which I would ask if I was on the receiving end of such a request and that's easily fixed with an email back, "Can you confirm that you are currently based in NZ or a NZ citizen based overseas please."

Pixie
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Old 13th February 2012, 16:11     #11
adonis
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by leadinjector
seems like an easy to answer fairly legit question to me. also seems like most of the schools are cagey about it, and i assume thats because most of them dont like to admit they run a homophobic establishment.
I mostly agree, it was a straight forward enough question, even his second email with that supposed "threat" about the involving the ombudsmen was pretty tame really.

Though, I think it's just as likely the schools were cagey about appearing homophobic or being spun to look homophobic, rather than actually having homophobic policies. People are easily scared of being roasted in the court of public opinion.
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Old 13th February 2012, 16:16     #12
Rince
SLUTS!!!!!!!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by [Malks] Pixie
As someone who's been involved in OIA's (both receiving and giving ends of them) I don't see anything wrong with the email that he sent out. It provides a relevant question(s), highlights the fact that it is an OIA request (even if this is just in the subject line), states who he is and thanks the recipients in advance. Nothing agressive in either of the two main emails that I can see there - some of his follow up emails could have been solved in an easier and more personable manner though.

Sadly the responses he received intially (as I'm assuming that eventually most of the schools complied with the request) is pretty par for the course - in particular within the education sector.

Wandarah raised the only thing which I would ask if I was on the receiving end of such a request and that's easily fixed with an email back, "Can you confirm that you are currently based in NZ or a NZ citizen based overseas please."

Pixie
this.

Also forwarded to @techliberty to see what they make of it.
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Old 13th February 2012, 16:16     #13
CCS
Stunt Pants
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chiQ
It was like he was deliberately setting them up to fail his little test.
I'd be inclined to agree with you if it wasn't such an easy request to respond to.

"If you hold a school ball or formal could you please answer the following questions?"
As per your request under the OIA; we do not have school balls.

"Do you have a policy on same-sex dates?"


Pretty easy to respond to, as schools would be unlikely to commit any sort of policy to writing. So respond with "We have no formal policy on the matter"


"In the past, has the school banned same-sex dates from attending the school ball or formal?"

Chances are they could answer this with "No, not to my knowledge" with the obvious exception of those schools that have. If they're going to ban same sex dates, they have to be prepared to justify it. This is one of those occasions where they may have to defend their actions!


"Do you have a policy on parties before/after the school ball or formal?"

Again, easy. Large schools have most likely had to discuss this at a staff or BoT level and ought to have some idea of what their approach to this is. Schools that are too small/well behaved have an easy answer: ""We have no formal policy on the matter."

If the schools don't reply, they end up looking like they something to hide and risk it blowing up further. Best to reply in good faith and most likely that will be the end of it.

I think the fellow's email may have been somewhat clumsily worded, but holier-than-thou and aggressive? No. Impolite? Who cares. Why take it personally when it's so easy resolve? The schools' responses were typically haughty and suspicious. Commonly, "Who are you?! Why do you want to know what we think?! Send us a hard copy! (we're scared of getting tricked by the internet)" Ultimately, these schools show a stunning lack of basic awareness of the OIA and should really wise up. "We're not going to comply with the law because fuck you!" will only cause them more trouble than it's worth.

Honestly, I think most of these principals (and administrators) have no business teaching with such moronic responses to the OIA request and with such intractable attitudes.

Finally, kudos to the kid for being knowledgeable about the Act and having the gumption to file the requests. Fuck if the schools don't like it. Those people having a go at the kid are probably of the "aw yeah nah just chill bro why u gotta make trouble man" variety. Well, fuck them.
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Old 13th February 2012, 16:16     #14
[WanG] Wandarah
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by leadinjector
seems like an easy to answer fairly legit question to me. also seems like most of the schools are cagey about it, and i assume thats because most of them dont like to admit they run a homophobic establishment.
What the fuck?
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Old 13th February 2012, 16:22     #15
[WanG] Wandarah
 
It seems to me, barring one or two numpties - that the Schools merely want to proceed in a manner that they are *accustomed* to. I wonder how many times they have received requests from private citizens regarding such potentially touchy subject matter. Not of course, that this excuses them from not responding to the request. Or sending Sandra in Admin out onto the 'tubes to look up what all this shit is about.

Unlike others, I think this kid could probably do with a letter-writing-in-the-adult-world course.

Anyway, people might find it surprising that the responses were of that nature, I don't find it surprising, and nor do I really give a fuck - there is after all a process already in place that'll serve to educate the educators on these matters - I am however, interested in what'll be in those responses, and the actual *point* of all this gibberish.

Last edited by [WanG] Wandarah : 13th February 2012 at 16:24.
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Old 13th February 2012, 16:28     #16
[Malks] Pixie
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by [WanG] Wandarah
Unlike others, I think this kid could probably do with a letter-writing-in-the-adult-world course.
Not trolling but I'd be interested in what you would change in his original two emails and why...

Pixie
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Old 13th February 2012, 16:29     #17
CCS
Stunt Pants
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by [WanG] Wandarah
I am however, interested in what'll be in those responses, and the actual *point* of all this gibberish.
I would have thought the point was in the first few paragraphs of his blog post?
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Old 13th February 2012, 16:38     #18
[WanG] Wandarah
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by [Malks] Pixie
Not trolling but I'd be interested in what you would change in his original two emails and why...

Pixie
In the first email, I would add an introduction, an explanation of why I'm asking which includes what I'll do with the information. Yes, I know he doesn't have to - and arguably shouldn't need to.

In the second, I'd lose the bit reminding them what the OIA is, and what will happen if they don't comply with his request. I'd also include a contact number, and ask for the same if they have any further questions.

All further responses of fuckery, I'd simply say that I believe I've met the conditions under which a request can be made - and forward the inquiry to the Ombudsmen.

Then, I probably wouldn't publish a Blog about it, and get caught up in the fact that Sandra in admin is a dozy bitch - and wait for the responses before I publish my article on Policies Regarding Same Sex Couples in Schools and After Parties.

Last edited by [WanG] Wandarah : 13th February 2012 at 16:40.
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Old 13th February 2012, 16:54     #19
[Malks] Pixie
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by [WanG] Wandarah
In the first email, I would add an introduction, an explanation of why I'm asking which includes what I'll do with the information. Yes, I know he doesn't have to - and arguably shouldn't need to.

In the second, I'd lose the bit reminding them what the OIA is, and what will happen if they don't comply with his request. I'd also include a contact number, and ask for the same if they have any further questions.
Okay fair enough - the only thing I'd say in this case is that really the OIA request isn't the same as a letter, you're not actually wanting to engage in a conversation with the agency which you're requesting information from (at that point at least).

My personal experience (which we can't take as being indicative of everyones experiences obviously) is that providing context to the request (who you are, what you are intending to do with the information) often leads to the agencies being able to refuse to provide the information based on the criteria of the OIA - or make it difficult to use the information due to the way it has been provided. I had one agency send me (actually the person I was assisting with their OIA) the information we requested in hardcopy, light grey 2pt font (18 pages of it) - simply because they didn't like the intended us of the information because it had the potential to reflect badly on them. The irony in that situation was the information they provided actually reflected well on them.

Pixie
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Old 13th February 2012, 17:45     #20
cEvin
Love In Vein
 
Interesting read, wonder when he's going to post the legit replies, if ever?
Surely some schools deserve some kudos, or were they ALL cagey?
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Old 13th February 2012, 18:51     #21
Rince
SLUTS!!!!!!!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CCS
I'd be inclined to agree with you if it wasn't such an easy request to respond to.

"If you hold a school ball or formal could you please answer the following questions?"
As per your request under the OIA; we do not have school balls.

"Do you have a policy on same-sex dates?"


Pretty easy to respond to, as schools would be unlikely to commit any sort of policy to writing. So respond with "We have no formal policy on the matter"


"In the past, has the school banned same-sex dates from attending the school ball or formal?"

Chances are they could answer this with "No, not to my knowledge" with the obvious exception of those schools that have. If they're going to ban same sex dates, they have to be prepared to justify it. This is one of those occasions where they may have to defend their actions!


"Do you have a policy on parties before/after the school ball or formal?"

Again, easy. Large schools have most likely had to discuss this at a staff or BoT level and ought to have some idea of what their approach to this is. Schools that are too small/well behaved have an easy answer: ""We have no formal policy on the matter."

If the schools don't reply, they end up looking like they something to hide and risk it blowing up further. Best to reply in good faith and most likely that will be the end of it.

I think the fellow's email may have been somewhat clumsily worded, but holier-than-thou and aggressive? No. Impolite? Who cares. Why take it personally when it's so easy resolve? The schools' responses were typically haughty and suspicious. Commonly, "Who are you?! Why do you want to know what we think?! Send us a hard copy! (we're scared of getting tricked by the internet)" Ultimately, these schools show a stunning lack of basic awareness of the OIA and should really wise up. "We're not going to comply with the law because fuck you!" will only cause them more trouble than it's worth.

Honestly, I think most of these principals (and administrators) have no business teaching with such moronic responses to the OIA request and with such intractable attitudes.

Finally, kudos to the kid for being knowledgeable about the Act and having the gumption to file the requests. Fuck if the schools don't like it. Those people having a go at the kid are probably of the "aw yeah nah just chill bro why u gotta make trouble man" variety. Well, fuck them.
well written.
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Old 13th February 2012, 20:25     #22
[WanG] Wandarah
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by [Malks] Pixie
Okay fair enough - the only thing I'd say in this case is that really the OIA request isn't the same as a letter, you're not actually wanting to engage in a conversation with the agency which you're requesting information from (at that point at least).

My personal experience (which we can't take as being indicative of everyones experiences obviously) is that providing context to the request (who you are, what you are intending to do with the information) often leads to the agencies being able to refuse to provide the information based on the criteria of the OIA - or make it difficult to use the information due to the way it has been provided. I had one agency send me (actually the person I was assisting with their OIA) the information we requested in hardcopy, light grey 2pt font (18 pages of it) - simply because they didn't like the intended us of the information because it had the potential to reflect badly on them. The irony in that situation was the information they provided actually reflected well on them.

Pixie
Roger that.
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Old 13th February 2012, 22:38     #23
Matt T
 
Hi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Juju
I would more lean to the side that they didn't want to give away internal documents to a random internet guy who didn't want to explain anything about his request other than "I want it".
Most schools didn't have an actual written policy on balls that they could send. The majority got the point that I was talking more about procedures than written policy and just answered the questions.

I think they were assuming I was from the media and were going to spin whatever they told me into a story.

It's kind of sad that either they have that sort of relationship with the media, or that when talking about homophobia etc. they immediately put their guard up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [WanG] Wandarah
Unlike others, I think this kid could probably do with a letter-writing-in-the-adult-world course.
Offering?

Quote:
Originally Posted by [WanG] Wandarah
In the second, I'd lose the bit reminding them what the OIA is, and what will happen if they don't comply with his request. I'd also include a contact number, and ask for the same if they have any further questions.
My intention was “hey guise, this OIA thing is [email protected]@”. Clearly things turn out better in my mind.

I purposely didn't give a phone number because getting 200 calls from principals doesn't seem like a fun time, and because I go to school so the hours that they would try to call would likely cross over with time I'm meant to be learning. Keeping track of what we talked about without always being beside a computer with a spreadsheet open would have been difficult too.

Also, I wanted their responses in writing because then I wouldn't get what they were meaning wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [Malks] Pixie
I had one agency send me (actually the person I was assisting with their OIA) the information we requested in hardcopy, light grey 2pt font (18 pages of it) - simply because they didn't like the intended us of the information because it had the potential to reflect badly on them. The irony in that situation was the information they provided actually reflected well on them.
Who says public servants don't have fun?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cEvin
Interesting read, wonder when he's going to post the legit replies, if ever?
Surely some schools deserve some kudos, or were they ALL cagey?
This was a lazy filler post. A lot of schools responded to the questions and those replies are coming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Juju
Here I was reading it to see what the replies were with the schools that did give him the information, but instead it was his holier-than-thou, I know more about the OIA than you do, wankish going on about how the schools responded to his overly aggresive email.

Anyone that would actually use the OIA for it's intended purpose (Actual research where they publish/research the results of the query and not the personal responses to the method the query was asked) would have happily answered the logical questions most of the schools asked ("Who are you?") in a polite and civilised manner.

The guy seems a complete dick.

Edit: So he says he will release the actual responses to the request in the coming weeks. I Still don't see the need or point of this blog post.
I weighed up seeming like a dick with wanting to make sure the post didn't spread incorrect assumptions about the OIA.

I thought that those personal replies were interesting because they showed how much education schools got about the OIA and because they showed what some schools thought about transparency.

In most cases I replied back nicely to the ‘who are you?’ questions. Or at least I think I was nice. This whole thing has shown me how varied different peoples interpretation of writing is.

It seemed like a bit of a waste to request all of this information and then not share it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [WanG] Wandarah
How do the schools know he is a) in New Zealand, or b) a New Zealand citizen overseas?

*fears cyc beating…*
This is a really good point. If that's what they wanted to know I think they would have been more direct than a ‘who are you?’ question though. But in all honesty, I don't think most would have been aware of that requirement in the OIA.
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Old 13th February 2012, 22:40     #24
cEvin
Love In Vein
 
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Old 14th February 2012, 00:17     #25
[WanG] Wandarah
 
No shit? Well 'Hey!' Matt T - rock on, and stuff man - I look forward to reading the collated responses and any conclusions (or not) that you have.
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Old 14th February 2012, 07:21     #26
[Malks] Pixie
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt T
Who says public servants don't have fun?
No one. I should highlight that (as I commented) I have been on the other end of requests when working as a public servant myself. It's interesting to note that major Ministry's usually conduct training on how to deal with OIA's and one of the major points that is highlighted in that training is that staff should never be looking for a reason to turn down an OIA request.

Having said that I've seen some ridiculous OIA requests which were simply untennable (such as wanting ALL records containing a particular word or phrase).

Pixie
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Old 14th February 2012, 07:48     #27
Rince
SLUTS!!!!!!!
 
Welcome Matt....
Don't let poison's sperginess put you off the rest of us.
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Old 14th February 2012, 07:51     #28
Rince
SLUTS!!!!!!!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by [Malks] Pixie
one of the major points that is highlighted in that training is that staff should never be looking for a reason to turn down an OIA request.
*cough*
someone should tell that to the policy writers at a .govt.nz department I'm familiar with...... lol


Actually - that's not really fair for the vast major of public servants at the aforementioned dept - OIAs are taken seriously.
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Old 14th February 2012, 08:05     #29
drone
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by [WanG] Wandarah
In the first email, I would add an introduction, an explanation of why I'm asking which includes what I'll do with the information. Yes, I know he doesn't have to - and arguably shouldn't need to.
This, and your other suggestions, are undermining the spirit and intent of the OIA. It is not up to the schools to decide whether they should hand over information based on any criteria of use or who is requesting it.

It's not about being polite, it's ensuring that the "norm" does not become something where those providing information under OIA have more wriggle room out of providing it than the law provides.

With respect, I've been involved in filling many OIAs and never seen such a brazen ignorance of the law from so many. There was nothing wrong at all with the way the original request was presented. I wouldn't be taking each school to task about it, I would collect the responses and raise the issue with the Minister for Education, and/or get a friendly MP to ask a question in the House.

The OIA is often the only way we've found out all sorts of interesting things. Let's not undermine it.
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Old 14th February 2012, 08:37     #30
[Malks] Pixie
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rince
*cough*
someone should tell that to the policy writers at a .govt.nz department I'm familiar with...... lol

Actually - that's not really fair for the vast major of public servants at the aforementioned dept - OIAs are taken seriously.
Yeah again I obviously can't speak for all departments, only those I've worked in / dealt with. My partner went through OIA training recently (as their trust was taken over by the government) and that was something which was highlighted to her.

I'm also organising for a link to Matt's blog to be sent to one of the OIA trainers at MoE - if he hasn't seen it already that is.

Pixie
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Old 14th February 2012, 19:38     #31
Golden Teapot
Love, Actuary
 
I've twice had to start a OIA request when dealing with district councils around the country. On both occasions I framed this as me helping the council; helping in the sense that they needn't fear what I might do with their info since they have no choice but to give it to me.

For one of these just my offer of help was enough. For the other I had to go so far as saying "lets make since an OIA request then" at which point they became instantly agreeable.
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Old 14th February 2012, 23:22     #32
blynk
 
Welcome Matt, how did you much to stumble across this fine forum
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Old 15th February 2012, 00:30     #33
[WanG] Wandarah
 
Hmmmfff!
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Old 15th February 2012, 08:54     #34
cEvin
Love In Vein
 
what's with the editing? thought nzg was against that
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Old 15th February 2012, 08:57     #35
Rince
SLUTS!!!!!!!
 
censorship!!!!
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Old 15th February 2012, 09:14     #36
xor
 
Better send an OIA
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Old 15th February 2012, 09:25     #37
StN
I have detailed files
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cEvin
what's with the editing? thought nzg was against that
Someone officious acted on the information...
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Old 15th February 2012, 23:34     #38
Matt T
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by blynk
Welcome Matt, how did you much to stumble across this fine forum
The referring sites to the blog post
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Old 16th February 2012, 01:27     #39
Ab
A mariachi ogre snorkel
 
Fuck. Our cover's blown boys. They know we exist.
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Old 16th February 2012, 08:23     #40
crocos
 
Quite. Let's run for the hills.
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