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Compulsory School Attendance – laws gone too far?

  

As parents we all know (or should) know that our children must attend school until they reach 17, however, what happens when they simply refuse to go to school? Stephanie Maspero from Maspero Legal delves into this very important topic…

Last week we met a client who came to us extremely concerned she was being threatened with prosecution by the Department of Education as her teenage daughter refused to go to school. Our client has very good reason to be concerned – prosecution in this area of law can exceed $11,000 and we have heard reports recently that the Department of Education are cracking down on these laws under the Education Act. The UK have taken similar laws even further and recently fined a number of parents large amounts for missing out on a few days of school despite having legitimate excuses.

There are a number of obvious defences to these laws such as illness, religious holidays and other family circumstances. However a child refusing to go to school as is the case with our client makes this area of law very difficult when the parent/s are making their best efforts for the child to attend school.  A child being disobedient despite the best efforts of the parents can be a defence to these laws however it can be difficult to prove and you don’t want to end up going through this in court.

Our client’s situation has been made worse as her own enquiries to the High School about her daughter’s attendance are not being followed up or passed on properly.

We have advised our client to make sure she keeps (or creates) documentary  evidence of these enquiries. For example following up with emails, calling back the school to follow up on a daily basis to ask about her daughter’s whereabouts and noting dates and times of phone calls including who she spoke to. We have also suggested she make additional appointments to go in and speak with Senior staff at the school. We also mentioned it would be a great idea to keep a journal detailing the sorts of things she has done as a parent to try and get her daughter to attend school recently such as having serious chats with other family members and Career Counsellors whilst with her daughter.

What are your thoughts on these laws, do you think they go too far?


Maspero Legal is a family business on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with 27 + years of helping clients satisfy their legal needs.

Servicing all of Sydney and beyond, they know the most important person in the room (and court) is you and their convenient and flexible services include pay as you go billing to help resolve your legal problems effectively.

With after hours and weekend availability to suit your busy schedule, they enjoy using technology such as Facetime and Skpe to offer a tailored approach in everything they do.

They offer a free consultation at a time and place to suit you, all you need to bring is an open mind.

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