Yep, I may well be a jail bird blogging from my cell (well, that’s if I’m actually given access to a computer that is)!
It’s 3 am and I haven’t slept a wink, I’m busy preparing my defence case (representing myself). This afternoon I’ll be of to court where I will need to prove that I didn’t intentionally keep my daughter home from school on the days she was sick.
I’ve been prosecuted twice before in relation to my sons school attendance. I was found guilty of section 444(1) failing to secure his attendance at school. I was found guilty because having a child with Aspergers who wasn’t receiving appropriate support causing him to develop school phobia and emotional behavioural problems, didn’t come within the statutory guidelines needed for them to allow me to walk with my head held high.
Statutory guidelines (“excuses”) only cover a handful of reasons for non attendance! These include illness, religion, travelling, and a few others that don’t cover incidents such a mental health, bullying and all those other reasons we find our children refusing to attend school, therefore creating a war zone come 8:50 am in the morning.
Such behaviour meant my daughters attendance struggled. However this was mainly lateness which gave her an unauthorised mark against her name (yes she was in but if the register was called she was given a half day absence against her name) When you have mornings like ours these marks tend to add up quickly!
Regardless of the above, once little man began attending his special school things slowly got back on track. Alice was given a little independence when I allowed her to walk the 2 minute walk down the hill to school.
With this things improved, I thought that with Little man in a new school I would have less to worry about. Sadly I was wrong.
If any of you have read the blog long enough you will already understand the struggles I had to get my son to school, a place that could not meet his SEN needs leaving him somewhat school phobic. My daughter suffered, what with being made late for school when big brother was hitting and spitting at mum. The fact the household received very little sleep because Little man doesn’t frankly believe in the five letter word is just another contributing factor.
When I was in court last, my mobile vibrated as the judge was speaking. When they retired I checked my phone only to discover a message from the Head teacher informing me Little man was yet again excluded, this time for 5 days. The head teacher was meant to be at court but instead had provided them with the information requested claiming he had meetings! I wasn’t found guilty of the more serious charge 444(1A) (which basically means the school were stating I had no intention on sending them into school… Yer right! I could actually do with the break.) However, I did receive a fine for the lesser charge of 444(1). Basically I couldn’t say he was sick on each of those days. He had received so many exclusions that these were now starting to confuse me. I’d spent so long trying to get him into a routine and now it was being wrecked. Ok, they couldn’t find me guilty on these days but they could of those that followed, the ones where he refused to attend, kicking and screaming.
The above made me so angry as I was fighting for a statement and having my child excluded every week didn’t help. I was also in the process of a claim against the school for discrimination which I won (settled out of court).
I eventually got my son out of the mainstream school and into an independent special school. There was however a period of time when he was educated in a library because the LEA would not agree to my school yet no state school would take him.
So, where does Alice fit in? Well, despite her improvement in getting there on time and therefore attending as she should, during the months of October through to January her attendance dropped. This was due to a reoccurring sickness bug which the school kept sending her home for. Then in January she had a very bad water infection that saw her on medication and close to hospitalisation. All days were covered. I had sent notes in, explained via email or visited the school in person.
They deny this! As a result I am being taken to court as my daughters attendance was recorded to have dropped to 80% with no reason given!
It would seem that the school have failed to log my letters or just chosen to ignore them. After all its up to them to authorise.
Lucky for me I requested her education records and obtained copies of some of these letters. Others were missing. Emails and records on verbal conversations have vanished as if they never existed.
I refused to plead guilty. My daughters attendance is near on 90% as it stands. I feel victimised by the school and LEA due to past difficulties.
The school state that a child must remain home if physically sick for a period of 48 hours. Nonetheless, when abiding by these policies, Alice receives an unfair mark against her name.
Now… I can’t just call up and get an emergency appointment with the GP because Alice is being sick. In the eyes of a GP an emergency this isn’t. There is nothing they can give her for sickness, So… it’s a waste of their time. We just keep her hydrated and comfortable.The thing is she may be sick the night before and just fine in the morning, yet when I tell staff she has been sick (purely because it wouldn’t be fair not to) we are sent jogging!
Shockingly, it also seems that despite her bad urine infection which I provided medical evidence in order to cover ourselves for, school still have it down as “N” in their attendance records which basically means “No reason given” what’s worse is that I called them, wrote to them and sent an email! Worse still, on one of these days she was actually sent home!
Under the freedom of information and data protection acts I was able to gain access to my daughters educational records, requesting things I wanted copied. Yes I was pleased to discover some of the items I needed to form my case were sat there right under my nose. Yet, I was also sadden to discover others were not (which worries me).
Within a few minutes of being given my daughters records I made the most horrific discovery! I was left sitting in a pool of tears as I tried to collect my thoughts. Ive decided to write this in another post… Why? Because in just a few hours I’ll be heading to court and I know writing about what’s worrying me will only make me feel worse… Basically it’s something I’ve put to the back of my mind because I need to focus on my court hearing.
I will therefore return when time permits.
So, I best go jump in the tub and get ready for yet another long winded court case where I’m sadly the defendant who abided by a schools policy and got her arss kicked for doing so.
Heres hoping I’m not gonna be made a jail bird… Here’s hoping I’ll be home tomorrow with my kids, blogging where I should be.