A man who successfully fought a prosecution for taking his kids out of school for a family holiday has been fined a second time by the same council.
Jonathan Platt made headlines in October last year when he avoided prosecution for taking his six-year-old daughter to Disney World in term time, arguing that her unauthorised absence did not mean she failed to attend school on a regular basis.
The ruling was seen as a victory for parents who refuse to succumb to the dramatic spikes in travel costs that operators introduce for peak school holidays. For example, research this week showed that for the coming February half-term some flight fares have soared more than 700 per cent above the average cost.
Mr Platt took his daughter to Lapland Photo: Getty
The issue of fines being handed to parents for unauthorised absences is a long-running and contentious one, with a number of local authorities currently mulling over how to get around the unpopular rules.
And now Mr Platt is back in the spotlight, as the Isle of Wight Council has issued a new £60 fine to penalise him for taking his daughter out of school for a trip to Lapland. In the meantime the council is seeking clarification from the High Court on the law.
“My understanding is the law doesn’t say anything about holiday time but most parents blink at the fine and pay the expense”
Mr Platt has once again indicated that he will not pay the fine, according to the BBC, which if left unpaid will rise to £120, before leading to a prosecution.
Last year he spent £1,000 on legal fees to challenge the £120 fine as he felt he had not breached legislation that says children must maintain a “regular” attendance.
He told the Telegraph at the time: “Her attendance for the whole of the last school year was nearly 94 per cent. I don’t know where the threshold is but quite frankly parents need to decide for themselves.”
“When I made the application through the school to get her time off it was refused even though her attendance at the time was 100 per cent.
“I’ve had lots of messages from people, asking me ‘what is the loophole here?’ But there is no loophole, the law just says your children must attend regularly.
“My understanding is the law doesn’t say anything about holiday time but most parents blink at the fine and pay the expense, even though a significant proportion of them are probably people whose kids actually attend school regularly.
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“If you want to fine somebody they have to have committed an offence.”
The Isle of Wight Magistrates court threw the case out after he successfully argued his case citing Section 444 of the Education Act, which requires parents to ensure their children attended school regularly.
Disney World Florida was the source of Mr Platt’s court case last year Photo: Getty
A spokesman for the council said it does not comment on individual cases “where a fixed penalty notice has been issued but not determined”.
The Isle of Wight Council said it has applied to the High Court for clarification on “a matter of law in relation to unauthorised school absences” and is waiting to receive a date for a hearing.
“The council will continue to implement the government’s current statutory guidance around attendance, subject to the further clarity that it is seeking from the High Court on this point of law,” the spokesman added.
Last month, parent campaigners declared a victory in the battle against term-time holiday bans when Wales’ education minister, Huw Lewis, ruled that such bans are illegal.