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Truant threat dropped

PUBLISHED: 05:59 21 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:18 24 February 2010

By John Howard

A MOTHER who faced prosecution because her 13-year-old son was not attending school regularly has been told by education officials that they have closed the case after her boy started attending lessons again.

By John Howard

A MOTHER who faced prosecution because her 13-year-old son was not attending school regularly has been told by education officials that they have closed the case after her boy started attending lessons again.

Suffolk County Council had warned Rita Savill, of Silverdale Avenue in Stowmarket, that she could face prosecution because her son Leon often refused to attend Stowmarket Middle School.

At the end of last year Ms Savill had been told by the authority that Leon had only attended 14 half day sessions out of 50, with a further four absences authorised because of illness.

Ms Savill, a 47-year-old mother of six, was fearful she would be sent to prison after a judge at Ipswich Crown Court turned down a woman's appeal against a 28 day jail sentence given by the town's magistrates for her child's truancy.

Elizabeth Maloney, assistant education officer, said: "Leon is now attending school on regular basis and we have closed the case.''

But Ms Savill said yesterday that Leon has just started dropping out of lessons again and she remains fearful that there will be legal action. Leon had been attending every lesson when the spring term started, but last week took two days off and this week three days, although one day was through illness.

She said: "He has started taking time off again and I think this will be re-opened again. It's a very difficult situation. There is only so much you can do, you can bribe, encourage, coerce, but when that fails, what is left?

"From day one I have not encouraged Leon to stay at home. My main concern is being punished for something when I am not the guilty party.

"Every day when the postman comes I worry there's going to be a summons, when I see a letter from the education department, I think, this is it.''

Ms Savill said Leon had severe hearing problems at primary school, underwent an operation, but fell behind with his education. She said he is now years behind educationally and said that while she can not fault his school at all, perhaps he needs extra help at home or school so he can catch up.

She wants her son to be able to take GCSEs and gain reasonable pass marks and feels he needs more support.

The county council believes it is the parents' responsibility to make sure their children attend school and the authority has to ensure this happens and insist they only take parents to court as a last resort.

john.howard@eadt.co.uk


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