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Shortcomings endangering pupils’ legal protection in municipal decision-making

The Deputy Ombudsman Pasi Pölönen stated in his two decisions on complaints that applications for pupil's assistance services should always be subject to an administrative decision that is eligible for appeal under the Basic Education Act. 

The Deputy Ombudsman investigated two complaints (4230/2019, 2220/2020) according to which cities did not issue any decisions on applications for personally arranged assistance services. The Deputy Ombudsman considered the procedure to be in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act and the Basic Education Act and stressed that the question was about assessing and safeguarding the prerequisites for equal participation in education.

Every year, the Ombudsman finds shortcomings in the administrative procedure and decision-making of municipal education authorities cause issues related to legal protection. The Deputy Ombudsman therefore considered it justified to notify the Ministry of Education and Culture on his decision. The Deputy Ombudsman also proposed that the ministry assess whether the Basic Education Act should be specified in such a way that it would clearly state the right of all pupils to free access to the services and special aids required for participation in education and the related decision-making obligation of the education provider. 

In 2020, the Ombudsman's oversight of legality pays particular attention to providing sufficient resources for the authorities to ensure fundamental rights. The Deputy Ombudsman asked cities to indicate what measures they had taken as a result of the decisions and the resources needed to fix the identified shortcomings in decision-making. 

The full texts of Deputy Ombudsman Pölönen’s decisions no 4230/2019 and 2220/2020 have been published online at www.oikeusasiamies.fi (in Finnish). 

Further information is available from Senior Legal Advisor Piatta Skottman-Kivelä, tel. +358 9 432 3347.