MoE can disclose SEA transcripts to parents upon request

Home*Cover Story*News

MoE can disclose SEA transcripts to parents upon request

Parents wanting transcripts of their child’s Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) can now make the requests with ease.

This as the Ministry of Education (MOE) revealed that it can disclose marked SEA transcripts based on requests from parents.

However, they stated that the requirement for disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) does not apply to Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) transcripts.

This comes after parents Alicia Dalipsingh and Roger Simon applied for their children’s SEA transcripts while Nicholas Lue Sue made an application for his child’s CAPE transcripts.

Appellate Judges Nolan Bereaux, Mark Mohammed, and Peter Rajkumar made the ruling late last week as they determined a series of consolidated appeals brought by the Ministry of Education.

The appeals related to the Ministry of Education’s handling of separate requests under the FOIA from parents seeking to query their children’s results.

The three parents were forced to file judicial review lawsuits after the ministry denied the requests as it claimed that the transcripts were in the possession of the Barbados-based Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and it had no power to compel disclosure.

Their lawsuits were upheld as a High Court Judge ruled that the ministry had the power to provide disclosure despite the documents not being in its custody.

In considering the ministry’s appeals over the judge’s findings, Justice Peter Rajkumar stated that while the “official documents” were not within the ministry’s possession or custody, they (the documents) were nevertheless within its “power” based on the terms of the ministry’s agreement with CXC.

“That conclusion must be upheld on appeal because the ministry had a right to their production from CXC under the SEA agreement, and that right was expressly presently enforceable by arbitration,” Justice Rajkumar said.

He also rejected the ministry’s claim that the disclosure would be contrary to CXC’s policy in relation to examination transcripts as he pointed out that it (CXC) never resisted disclosure.

“The ministry’s failure to seek such consent could not be utilized by it to support a claim that such consent could not be obtained,” he said.

In dismissing the ministry’s appeal against Dalipsingh and Simon’s cases, the appeal panel affirmed the judge’s decision that the ministry’s disclosure refusal was illegal, irrational and amounted to a breach of the FOIA.

However, he noted that the same could not apply to CAPE transcripts as the ministry did not have a similar written agreement with CXC in relation to that examination.

The appeals did not specially deal with the disclosure of Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination transcripts, which are also administered by CXC for the ministry.

Dalipsingh was represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Kent Samlal, Jared Jagroo, and Natasha Bisram. Lue Sue was represented by Richard Freeman and Nirad Ramrekersingh, while Colin Selvon represented Simon.

The ministry was represented by Douglas Mendes, SC, Michael Quamina, SC, Natoya Moore, and Sara Muslim.