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Smith goes to court to push truancy issue

Smith goes to court to push truancy issue

Nick Smith - National Education Spokesperson

Nelson MP Nick Smith today goes to the Wellington District Court for the first hearing in his attempt to prosecute Child, Youth and Family for not ensuring children in it’s care are attending school.

“There is a truancy epidemic in New Zealand and neither CYFs nor the Ministry of Education is doing anything about it. Despite over 4000 cases of children not being enrolled at school, the Minister told Parliament last week that there has not been a single prosecution this year. Until we get serious about ensuring every young person under 16 is at school, we will continue to see tragedies involving young people in serious crimes like murder.”

The specific case involves a 14-year-old boy from Nelson in the care of CYFs who has only attended school for three days in the last year. The boy has previously committed arson and was recently apprehended by Police for breaking and entering a launch in Nelson haven.

“CYFs have been responsible for the care of this boy for over two years. It is just not acceptable for a state agency to blatantly disregard the legal requirements for a child to be at school.

“This Court action is the last resort. The boy’s parents raised the issue of his school attendance over a year ago. I wrote to the Department in March and again in May, with no result. I also want to test the truth. In June the Department said the boy has had a “good chunk of schooling” but my checks with the schools they say he has attended show he has only been at school for three days in the last year.

“The cop-out answer is that no school will take these difficult youngsters. This is not good enough. New Zealand must develop a range of schooling options including specialist secure residential schools to ensure every child can and does get an education. Leaving any child to walk the streets is an invitation for more tragedies,” said Dr Smith.

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