Portsmouth school threatened with court apologises for not sending email

Trafalgar School in Hilsea
Trafalgar School in Hilsea
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A SCHOOL threatened with being hauled in front of a judge for not replying to an email has apologised.

Trafalgar School, in London Road, Hilsea, fell foul of transparency laws after not replying to a request.

I’m afraid this is oversight rather than anything else

Steven Labedz

A man had asked how much it cost the school to send staff to China on a trip, for financial reports for the last three years and for the cost of supply teachers covering certain lessons.

Under the Freedom of Information Act the school had 20 days to reply.

But a decision notice by the Information Commissioners’ Office found the school did not reply in the allowed time after the question was sent in on September 28 last year.

The school did not reply to a follow-up email on October 26. That led to the school being issued an ICO decision note, which said: ‘The school must take these steps within 35 calendar days of the date of this decision notice.

‘Failure to comply may result in the commissioner making written certification of this fact to the High Court pursuant to section 54 of the Act and may be dealt with as a contempt of court.’

Steven Labedz is executive headteacher at Salterns Trust, which runs the school.

Speaking to The News Mr Labedz said the email had been discovered in a little-used inbox. He said: ‘I’m afraid this is oversight rather than anything else.

‘The initial complaint arrived and was logged on September 28 and disappeared into somebody’s to-do pile and never unfortunately was responded to, which is completely inefficient.’

He said the original email was since found in an inbox little used by the school.

‘The next thing we know was when we got the letter from the ICO,’ he added.

‘Obviously we’ve responded to the Freedom of Information request with all the stuff that was required.’

Mr Labedz said he believes in transparency.

‘This is public money and I think all the decisions we make in public bodies should be open to scrutiny,’ he said.

‘We should be able to justify what we’re spending money on and we don’t.’

He added: ‘This was a very easy Freedom of Information request, the issue is when they all come thick and fast.’

However, the person who sent in the query says he has not had any response yet from the school.

Mr Labedz said some information requested was published online already.

Public bodies can refuse to give information under certain exemptions in the law.

Trafalgar School was formerly known as City of Portsmouth Boys School. It was converted to an academy in April last year, when it was renamed, and started to accept girls at the beginning of the current academic year.