Parent in court for over child’s school absence - and told relationship split was no excuse

Court news.
Court news.

A man has been told he still had responsibility for ensuring his children go to school despite being separated from his wife at the time.

Mark Knight, 46, of Marketstead Estate in Kirton, appeared at Boston Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, for failing to ensure two of his children went to school at Haven High Academy between September 5 and October 17, 2013.

Lincolnshire County Council’s prosecutor told the court how the children’s attendance had been ‘failing’ - including one being truant from school for an entire term, and the other often being late or absent altogether.

She said meetings had been set up with Knight and his wife, which they had initially attended but then failed to attend subsequent meetings.

Letters had been handed to both parents stressing that legal action could be taken if the children’s attendance did not improve.

She also told how there had been a number of housecalls by an officer who had on more than one occasion found at least one of the children at home and in one instance found them in nightwear.

Excuses ranged from sunstroke to broken washing machines meaning no clean uniforms, heavy periods and full ‘service’ buses meaning one child having to catch a later one.

She said there were concerns the absences could have an effect on the Knights’ four other children.

Knight, who was unrepresented, said he did not know the children weren’t attending school as he wasn’t living there due to being separated from his wife at the time. They have since got back together.

He said: “I wasn’t at the family home. I popped in every night on the way back home from work but I wasn’t there when she was taking the kids to school or bringing them home.

“If I was going through and the children were late I picked them up then.”

Knight’s wife Jayne Knight, was previously dealt with by the court on January 13 when she pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the attendance of the children and was given a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Chairman of magistrates Christine Chapman said: “We consider that you were very actively involved with parenting and the joint charge with Mrs Knight is appropriate.”

They gave Knight, an industrial washer who works from 10am ‘until we decide to pack up for the night’, a two year conditional discharge. He must also pay a £15 victim surcharge.

The Standard successfully challenged an attempt to impose reporting restrictions on this case.