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Pupils' Tardiness in British School Can Cost Parents $300, Jail Time

Pupils' Tardiness in British School Can Cost Parents $300, Jail Time

Second-grade pupils cheer as their structure of toothpicks and gumballs withstands the weight of textbooks during the recent Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics week at Stearley Heights Elementary School on Kadena Air Base. | Wikimedia Commons/Lance Cpl. Diamond Peden

British parents are being threatened with stringent guidelines that fine them up to £240 or over $300 for their children's tardiness. The current £60 (almost $80) penalty will rise four-fold if a child is 30 minutes late based on new rules issued by schools and councils across the West Midlands, Hampshire, Sussex and Essex.

As early as 2015, some schools in England began to fine £60 ($75) for student latecomers. The penalty can be doubled if not paid within 28 days while parents who refuse to pay could be prosecuted and jailed. Many schools have followed suit since then, using a 2003 law allowing head teachers to impose fines.

Now, being late could turn out costlier for parents after West Sussex County Council issued a £120 ($150) Fixed Penalty Notice if a pupil is consistently late in school. The fine is reduced by half if paid within 21 days. Parents have deplored the fines for being money-making ventures.

Schools have been emboldened to impose penalties after parents lost their cases in courts. In the previous academic year, 90,000 parents in England and Wales have been fined an estimated £5.6 million ($7.28 million). Last April, the Supreme Court upheld the ban on parents taking their children out of school for holidays and family events during schooldays.

In the U.S., schools are allowed to penalize student truancy in 40 states and the District of Columbia. Parents of repeat offenders can face fines — anywhere from $20 to $1,500, plus court fees — or short-term imprisonment. In 2014, a woman died serving time in jail after she failed to pay her children's $2,000 fines.

Joanna Heilbrunn, director of the National Center for School Engagement explained that the main reason why students miss out on their classes are family problems which could be health or economic in nature. Penalizing parents and putting them in jail doesn't solve the problem, she added.


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