Cancer survivor mother fined $1,000 by school for taking children on holiday to celebrate being disease-free
A mother of four who decided to take a term-time holiday to celebrate being cancer-free has been slapped with a fine of $1,000 (£788).
Katie McDermott was told that her reasons to take her children out of classes were not looked at as "exceptional circumstances."
The 36-year-old mother had to go through around 18 weeks of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy after a lump was found in her breast in November 2017. The doctors had shared that Katie was clear of cancer in October 2018. She then applied to the Central Lancaster High School which two of her four children attended to request for six days of leave in December. She and her husband, Darren, 40, only received a response from the school seven weeks later, two days before they were leaving.
However, the application was rejected and, with 48 hours, the family had no choice but to travel despite the school's ruling. Upon returning from their vacation, the parents received a letter from the local authority which passed the case to the Lancaster Magistrates' Court. After appealing their decision, Katie and Darren were fined $1,000 (£788) for taking their children out of school with no permission.
As reported by Mirror, "The kids have been so good throughout everything, it was really difficult but they kept going. They have always gone into school and done their work without any problems at all," Katie shared. She also added how the school had said that they were model students. "I really feel like they deserved this trip after everything they have been through," she said before adding how upsetting it was to be treated in such a way. Darren who works as a plumber said the holiday was a surprise treat for the kids to give them some time to spend with their mother.
"We have never taken the kids out of school before, it was just to take them away with Katie after all she had been through," Darren shared. The holiday had been paid for by family and friends who hosted a fundraising event and donated the money to go abroad. Given that the letter from the school authorities came so late, the family had no choice but to go. The headteacher at Central Lancaster High School, Nicola Hall said, "As a school, we empathize with the wide range of sensitive issues which require compassion and consideration in all of our families."
"In accordance with regulations imposed by the government, the school has adopted a policy not to authorize term-time family holidays. We recognize the importance of children being consistently in school to access their whole curriculum offer. We hope all parents understand the limitations placed on schools in granting leave," she shared.