Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Parents Face $70 Fine if Child Skips School

English: Martin Dixon, Victorian State Member ...
Martin Dixon (Wikipedia)
Victorian parents who let their children miss school without a valid reason may face a $70 fine under a planned crackdown next year.

Education Minister Martin Dixon says the proposed laws for 2014 will target parents whose children are absent for at least five days a year and who fail to work with schools to improve attendance.

“What we’re talking about here is a minority who are away often and away for no good reason for at least five days,” Mr Dixon told reporters in Melbourne on Monday. “Principals have said to us on a number of occasions there are always one or two families within their schools where this fine might apply.”

Mr Dixon said the fine would be a last resort and would only be issued if a parent refused to discuss with the school the reasons behind their child’s absence.

The minister said legitimate excuses included illness, a limited amount of family travel or cultural celebrations, but not necessarily a child needing rest or multiple holidays.

“The vast majority of parents do the right thing by their children, but we think every Victorian child needs to have that opportunity to be at school as often as possible,” he said. Under current legislation, fines can only be applied through the courts but no one has ever been pursued.

Mr Dixon says the laws are unworkable because taking somebody to court is a long process.

Draft legislation has been released for 30 days for public comment.
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