Opinion is split as to who is right – the mum or the school?

The mother of a seven year-old girl was shocked when she received a court summons to answer for keeping her daughter off school.

Libby's cancer has not returned, but her mum is ever-vigilant

Libby’s cancer has not returned, but her mum Kerry is ever-vigilant

Seven year-old Libby Bennett battled cancer five years ago; when she complained of stomach pains, her mum, Kerry Capper, was afraid a tumour on her kidneys had returned. Kerry decided to keep Libby, who is still under the care of Birmingham Children’s Hospital, at home in order to monitor the situation.

However Kerry, who is from Erdington in Birmingham, has now received a summons to court and is being prosecuted for failing to pay a £60 fine imposed for not sending Libby in to Paget Primary School.

Birmingham Council have said that Miss Capper did not explain Libby’s absences nor attend a meeting set up to discuss the situation. Given their “robust stance” on unauthorised absences from schools, the council said they had spoken to Miss Capper, “inviting her to a meeting to talk through any issues and concerns. When there was still no response a penalty notice was issued and when this was not paid the matter was sent to magistrates.”

Kerry has defended her actions to the BBC: “Libby has woken up saying that she’s got a sore stomach and I get scared. I want to keep my eye on her.” She is accused to keeping Libby off school for seven days in the first three months of this year. Miss Capper has admitted not always contacting the school to advise them of an absence because her mobile phone sometimes runs out of credit and says the missing of school meetings was “accidental:”

“I said ‘apologies I’ve missed that appointment’. The teacher just said ‘I’m sorry mum, it’s getting sent to court now’. Then I got a penalty notice of £60 but I couldn’t afford to pay that at that time.”

Miss Capper’s legal team, Glaisyers Solicitors, has said that the council’s decision was “heavy-handed and inflexible,” but Kerry is due at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court in September.