Education Law
New Zealand

“Advising and assisting parents, schools, ECEs, tertiary institutions and other educational organisations on all aspects of education law and their rights to be treated in a fair, just and transparent manner.”

I advise

Tertiary education organisations on regulatory issues and investigations in relation to the TEC and NZQA, including funding issues. We act for tertiary organisations and students (including international students) in relation to student complaints.

Principal, school boards and/or parents in the compulsory schooling sector,(including state integrated, private schools and kura kaupapa Maori) on all schooling issues including parental complaints, investigations, governance and management disputes, exclusions and expulsions, and student health and safety.  I can assist in bullying prevention and complaints, and special education issues.  I have particular expertise in assisting parents who have unresolved complaints and believe they have not been treated fairly or received transparent explanations for actions that have affected them and their whānau.

Early Childhood Centres (ECEs), home based care organisations and kindergartens on compliance and funding requirements and advocate and negotiate with the Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office to resolve a range of issues.

Education sector organisations and entities including NGOs and trusts.

I also provide public law, information law and privacy law advice to public entities, and to individuals and organisations dealing with public entities.

Leo Donnelly, ONZM


Education Law and Information Law specialist

Leo Donnelly, ONZM is a former Ombudsman of New Zealand and is one of New Zealand’s leading experts in his specialist areas of Education Law, Information Law, Privacy Law and Public Law. As an Ombudsman, Deputy Ombudsman and a senior investigator at the Office of the Ombudsman, Leo spent 3 decades investigating and reviewing complaints about the administrative actions and procedures of state sector organisations and recommending resolutions to promote fair, just and transparent delivery of services to the public. This involved assessing individual actions and omissions in the context of an organisation’s systems and culture and statutory responsibilities. Leo brings governance and strategy expertise and wide experience in complaint handling and dispute resolution. Leo’s specialist skills and experience include identifying practical solutions within the law that satisfactorily resolve complaints by individuals who believe they have been treated in an unreasonable, unjust, oppressive or improperly discriminatory manner.

In his Deputy Ombudsman and Ombudsman roles, Leo was an advocate for citizens seeking redress where they had been treated unfairly or where they had no voice and needed assistance in speaking truth to power. In the last 5 years in private practice and now as a Barrister, Leo continues to provide advocacy and legal advice in his specialist areas. He is also available to undertake investigations and assist clients in gaining the best advantage in Official Information, LGOIMA and Privacy Act requests and in pursuing or responding to complaints with the Ombudsman, Privacy Commissioner, Health and Disability Commissioner and claims in the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

Leo has an LLB from Victoria University of Wellington and was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List. Leo is a member of the Executive Committee of the NZ Chapter of the Australia New Zealand Education Law Association (ANZELA) and is the General Secretary of the Oceania Karate Federation and Secretary of Karate Auckland. Leo is of NZ/Japanese ethnicity and holds an 8th Dan Black Belt in Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate.

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