MORE than 150 parents in Erewash have been taken to court for letting their children skip school in the last five years.
The figures, which have been supplied by Derbyshire County Council, show that 153 cases against parents were taken successfully through the court between September 2006 and the end of the 2010/2011 academic year for their child’s persistent absences.
The numbers, which were obtained by the Advertiser through a Freedom of Information request, showed that secondary school pupils were the worst offenders with 130 of the cases involving older pupils’ parents.
The remaining 23 prosecutions for unauthorised absences were brought against primary school children’s parents.
Under the Education Act, parents can be prosecuted for two offences – one that the child has had regular unauthorised absence from school and the second that requires proof that the parent has knowledge and is the cause of the absence.
Last year, The Department for Education changed the definition of persistent absence in school performance tables from 20 per cent to 15 per cent for absenteeism – the equivalent of having a month off school a year.
A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said: “We work closely with schools to ensure effective support is in place and that everything possible is done to prevent unauthorised absences.
“We always prefer to work with parents or carers to improve attendance by offering support to tackle the underlying reasons behind it.
“But if necessary we use penalty notices and prosecutions as a last resort if there is no alternative way of ensuring a child attends schools as they are legally required to do.
“Every day a child misses school has a negative effect on their achievement.”
On average across Derbyshire in any one year, two parents will be sentenced to imprisonment or suspended imprisonment because of their child’s truancy.
Peter Hamer, principal at Kirk Hallam Community Technology and Sports College, said: “The college has very effective systems for dealing with truancy.
“The use of electronic registration has enabled the college to easily identify when students are not in lesson.
“Where truancy is identified the College reacts quickly by inform the student’s Head of Year and making contact with parents.”