Mum prosecuted after kids miss school
A Hawke’s Bay school is prosecuting a mother whose two children have failed to attend school for much of the year.
The woman, whose name is suppressed, appeared in Napier District Court on Wednesday.
She faces two charges of having children who failed to attend school regularly. She pleaded not guilty and was remanded at large until next month.
The children were enrolled at the primary school early in 2015. By September that year the school identified attendance as a problem. It is alleged that when the children did not arrive at school staff sent the woman a text message. She would often reply by saying they were running late or staying home sick.
But the children appeared healthy and school staff became suspicious, so they required the woman to produce medical certificates when the children were absent due to sickness.
For two years the school tried to resolve the issue. Staff tried to identify the cause of truancy and to encourage the woman to make the children attend. It held meetings with her and it sent a series of letters advising her of the possibility of prosecution.
In February this year the school told the woman to contact the school to arrange a meeting about the matter.
The letters noted that between January 30 and February 28 one of the children had attended less than 40 per cent of class time. The other had attended about 74 per cent.
Further meetings were held with the mother in March and April, and letters were sent to her in April, May and June, warning that the school’s Board of Trustee would have to prosecute her if things did not improve.
Then the board laid charges. So far this year one of the chil- dren had been absent half the time; the other had been absent 25 per cent of the time.
Ministry of Education head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said the primary responsibility for making sure children go to school sits with parents.
Under the Education Act 1989 parents can be liable for a fine not exceeding $30 for every day a child is absent from school, up to a maximum $300. A second conviction can see a parent fined $3000.
The fines are payable to the school’s Board of Trustees.
The woman appeared in Napier District Court last week.