A mum who repeatedly kept her teenage son home from school because he wakes up in an “unbearable” mood has been fined by magistrates.
Sharon Jenkins was among 11 parents and guardians convicted on Friday as part of an ongoing truancy crackdown by Rhondda Cynon Taf council.
The 43-year-old from Clarence Street, Mountain Ash, admitted one charge of failure to secure regular attendance at school, an offence under the Education Act 1996.
She said: “I know it’s wrong, but some mornings it’s easier to do that than get a phone call an hour into school that he’s playing up.”
Council prosecutor Tony Hughes said that education welfare officers had made a number of visits to the family home, but her 14-year-old son had not completed a full week of school since September 10, 2012, and his attendance stands at 65%.
Ms Jenkins, who was fined £73 and ordered to pay £133 costs and victim surcharge, told Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court that when she was taken ill late last year her son went to stay with his father and she was not aware he was failing to attend lessons. He has now returned to his mother’s house.
She said: “Some mornings he does get up and he’s in such a mood and I don’t want to put up with him myself, so I think rather than him go to school and get into trouble or go mitching I keep him home.
“But I have told him the truth that when he gets up in the morning, he’s unbearable.”
Ms Jenkins and her fellow defendants appeared in court 24 hours after Cardiff mum Kelly Murphy, 35, was jailed for 16 weeks
after admitting failing to secure the attendance of her two daughters.
She is the first parent in Cardiff to be jailed for the offence.
Cardiff council is one of many local authorities cracking down on attendance and, in a further bid to get a grip on Wales’ truancy problem, the Welsh Government has confirmed that from September, councils will be able to issue parents with fixed penalty fines of up to £120.
Among the cases heard yesterday in Pontypridd were two where the pupils involved had zero attendance for weeks at a time.
Craig Warsama, defending Gillian Samuel, 64, and Bruce Samuel, 66, of Union Street, Pentre, who both admitted failing to secure the regular attendance of their 16-year-old grandson at Treorchy Comprehensive School, said they “are in the pit of despair” over his truancy, having tried everything they can, including bribing him to attend lessons.
“But the be all and end all of it is he just doesn’t want to go. He becomes quite abusive and quite intimidating,” he said.
Tony Hughes, prosecuting, said the teenager had attended zero sessions out of a possible 60 between November 30, 2012 and January 11.
They both received a six month conditional discharge.
Magistrates’ also heard a 14-year-old pupil at Tonyrefail Comprehensive had attended zero sessions out of a possible 48 between February 18 and March 22.
His mother Tina Brooks, of Thomas Street in Porth, admitted the offence before the hearing and was fined £110 in her absence.
Lesley Rossi (corr), 30, of Bryngolwg, Aberdare, who admitted a charge of failing to secure the attendance of her 14-year-old daughter at Aberdare Girls Comprehensive, said her daughter had suffered recurrent sickness bugs and had been denied access to the toilet in school, so she had been kept home. She was fined £73.
Magistrates’ chairman Peter Young warned Kelly Taverner, 35, of The Avenue, Pontygwaith, who admitted failing to send her 16-year-old daughter to Porth County Community School regularly, that she could be jailed in future.
She said her daughter was “frightened” by her court appearance.
Fines totalling £266 were imposed on three other defendants. Two mums received conditional discharges.