Post Primary Teachers’ Association spokesman Norman Austin said schools were underfunded and many had resorted to asking parents to pay illegal charges to cover costs.
Schools were allowed to ask for donations but often tricked parents into thinking they were a compulsory charge by listing them as “school fees” or including them beside mandatory charges, such as sports subs, said Austin.
“We’ve got this notion that education is free, and it is free – up to a point.
“It’s almost accepted now that [donations are] compulsory and that’s the kind of bent schools are putting on how they communicate with parents.”
One principal in another part of the country “named and shamed” pupils who did not pay a donation in front of their peers at assembly, which was not acceptable, he said.
New Zealand Principal’s Federation president Philip Harding said it was “morally wrong” to disguise school donations as compulsory fees.
“But I would hope that any school that was doing that would be in isolation.”