Local authorities are taking legal action more frequently against parents who fail to ensure their children’s attendance at school. For any parent, the threat of legal action can be a daunting prospect. Jamie Hare, Associate Solicitor at Tees, looks at what legal action a local authority can take against you and what to do if you have received a court summons.

What action can a Local Authority take against a parent? 

In the first instance, the school and local authority should work with you to provide support and to help understand the barriers to your child attending. Where this is not successful, a local authority can take several actions to address the situation for failing to ensure your child attends school regularly, these include:

  • Issue each parent with a Penalty Notice, for each child. This is issued without the need to go to court
  • Serve a School Attendance Order, which is a legal order requiring you to ensure your child attends school regularly. If you fail to comply with the order, you could be prosecuted and fined
  • Take legal action against you which, depending on the offence charged, could result in a fine or imprisonment for up to three months

I have received a summons to the Magistrates Court – what should I do?

If you have received a summons to the Magistrates Court, it is important to take it seriously and respond promptly. You should consider these actions to take:

  • Read the summons carefully and understand the details
  • Seek legal advice from a solicitor; they can advise you on what to do or how to proceed
  • Decide on your plea. This means whether you will plead guilty or not guilty. Your plea will determine the course of the case, so make an informed decision
  • Respond to the summons within the timeframe specified in the document. Failure to do so may result in further legal action being taken
  • Prepare for your court appearance. If you plead not guilty and proceed to trial, gather evidence or witnesses that may support your defence and present your case in court

A summons is a legal document that should not be ignored. 

If you would like advice or assistance in relation to any of the above, please contact Jamie Hare or the education law team at Tees on 0800 0131 165