British parents found themselves on the wrong side of the law. Their crime? Taking their kids on a vacation during the school term.
According to an article in the Toronto Star, the Sutherlands were fined a total of £993 ($1,800) and prosecuted after pulling their three children out of school for a week's holiday in Greece.
Stewart Sutherland, who works for the Ministry of Defence Guard Service, booked the family trip before the legislation passed banning school leave other than for “exceptional circumstances.”
The Sutherlands' trip was deemed unexceptional. But the family went to Greece, anyway. First came a fine, then a court appearance when the couple was charged under the Education Act 1996 for failing to send their kids to school.
“On a human level, I think people have a bit of sympathy with families in this position,” said Council spokesperson, Russell Griffin. “However, the legislation is the legislation and rules are rules. And in the eyes of the law, what they’ve done is wrong.”
Such is the support for the Sutherlands' plight that nearly 200,000 signatures have been collected in an online petition appealing to the government to reverse the legislation passed in September. Others offered to settle the fine.
“People who don’t live in the real world, who work 9 to 5, five days a week, never work a weekend, and have never missed Christmas with the children, don’t have to work nights. Those are the only people against me,” said Sutherland.
Ridiculous or rightful penalty? Should the government have a say in how long parents can pull kids out of school?
See how this overzealous school dealt with a student's poor attendance record . . .