Family & Pets

“He refuses to get out of bed”: Parents fined $230 for not getting their son to school

“He refuses to get out of bed”: Parents fined $230 for not getting their son to school

NZ parents of a 15-year-old boy have been fined under the Education Act and have been forced to pay $50 each as well as cover court costs of $130.

They were fined for their failure to make sure their son attended school.

Parents Donna Davey and Shane Dryden, who now live apart, appeared in Dunedin District Court, where they each admitted a charge under the Education Act of failing to ensure their child was enrolled in school.

Counsel Jo Turner said that the parents were “at a loss” as to what to do with their sleepy son.

"[They] have tried everything they can to get him out of bed," she said, according to the NZ Herald.

"He refuses to get up in the morning."

The boy who lived with Davey was enrolled at Clinton Primary School until the end of 2017 and was then enrolled at South Otago High School up until May this year.

The court heard that during those periods of time, the boy was unenrolled at various times due to long spells of non-attendance.

At one point in 2018, the teenager had 38 days of unjustified absence and seven days of justified absence out of 62 school days.

This means he was off school nearly three-quarters of the time.

With every 20 days of unjustified leave, the boy was removed from the school roll.

The Ministry of Education sent his parents a letter threatening criminal charges if the boy did not attend school.

"Considerable effort has been made by various state agencies to ensure that the defendants enrol [their son] at school and have him attend school regularly," a summary of facts said.

Community Magistrate Simon Heale who overlooked the trial accepted that the parents have made considerable effort to get their child to attend school.

"I understand teenagers can be very difficult to coax into compliance," he said.

"But it is your obligation, till he reaches the age of 16, to have him at school."

"While prosecution for non-enrolment is available, prosecuting parents is absolutely a last resort," deputy secretary of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said.

She also said that it was inappropriate to comment on the decision of the court when media questioned whether a $50 fine would deter other parents.

The Minister of Education said the prosecution was the first since 2017 and the fourth since 2014.