Mum prosecuted over truant child

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 06:16 18/09/2012

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A Manawatu mother has been prosecuted after her daughter played truant from school 29 times this year.

The girl, aged in her mid-teens, had problems with teachers and would just walk away from school, Feilding District Court heard yesterday.

The mother, who has interim name suppression, admitted one charge of breaching the Education Act’s anti-truancy provisions.

Judge Gerard Lynch remanded the mother at large until next month to allow her to enrol her daughter in distance learning.

He also ruled that the mother’s name could not, for now, be published.

The suppression was to protect her daughter and to not expose her to “undue pressure by Facebook or Twitter”, or enhance her “street cred” and encourage others to play truant.

A court summary of facts says the girl enrolled at her present school, which cannot be named, last year when attendance problems began.

The girl was referred to police and attended a “Rock On” programme.

But between January and August this year, the girl was absent from school 29 times.

“None of these absences were explained to the satisfaction of the [school] principal and therefore were considered unjustified,” the summary said.

The school wrote to the mother three times between June last year and February this year, warning her that she could be prosecuted.

Then in June a family conference was held, although no plan to remedy the situation was agreed.

Defence lawyer Jock Turnbull said the mother had three other young children to care for, as well as the girl who played truant.

“She has problems with teachers and just walks away rather than try and deal with any problems that arise.

“She has proposed to her mother that she enrol in correspondence school rather than go back to [her present school].”

Judge Lynch noted that the Education Act allows parents or guardians to be fined $30 for every absent day, up to a total of $300.

In this case, the sum would be $290 plus $132 court costs.

But the judge said that would be money better spent by the woman on her children.

“If I fine you $400 it comes out of the mouths of the young children.”

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- Manawatu Standard

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