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Absentees' parents face record penalty

DERBYSHIRE parents Patrick and Mary Doran were fined pound;1,500 last week for their persistent failure to make their five children go to school.

Short of moving in with the family, educational welfare officers did everything they could to boost school attendance, according to Julie Mullard, head of educational welfare in Derby, said.

She said: "We would go to the house and wait for the children to get dressed and then drive them to school. On some occasions, the parents even refused to let them go with us."

The record fine, pound;150 per parent for each child plus pound;100 costs was imposed by magistrates at Bold Lane magistrates' court. It was welcomed by the city's education officials.

Ms Mullard said: "It is by far the biggest prosecution to date and should act as a deterrent. When people leave court with a pound;15 fine it makes parents think 'so what?'" The Doran children, aged between five and 14, had attendance records of between 30 and 50 per cent between April and July. Education welfare officers made 18 visits to the family. The couple of Sitson Road, West Drayton, were not in court and no reason was given for their failure to take their children to Grampian primary and Sinfin community school, Derby. In recent weeks, the council has taken 20 parents to court under a new fast-track system.

There are also plans to target parents of pupils at two schools with poor attendance records - High View school and Sinfin community school.

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