Win for family travel in British court

The dad. Courtesy of The Independent.

The dad. Courtesy of The Independent.

Cheers to Jon Platt.

How else to lead into a story about the British father who fought and beat a silly law forbidding kids to miss school for travel? How else to celebrate a man who established legal precedent for British—and, hopefully, at least eventually—American families to pull kids from school to experience the world.

The story is convoluted to say the least. Last April, Platt pulled his daughter from school on the Isle of Wight for a family vacation to Florida and the Walt Disney World Resort. When the family returned, he was hit with a £60 fine for violating the Education Act, which stipulates that parents are guilty of an offence if they fail to ensure their child “attends regularly” at school. Platt fought the fine. It doubled. So he took it to court.

The battle escalated to reach the Isle of Wight Magistrates’ Court in October, where Platt won his case, but the local authority appealed the decision to the High Court, which this week finally ruled this week in Platt’s favor.

All told, Platt told The Independent said the case had cost him £13,000, which he described as “money well spent”, and has crowdfunded £25,000 to cover legal costs.

Coverage of the decision was fantastic because much of it included running quotes from Platt after his big win. During an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain program, Platt said: “If the law required 100 per cent attendance, if the law said your children must attend every single day in order to get a great education, the law would say that, but it does not. We are not arguing on behalf of people whose kids don’t go to school, I’m arguing on behalf of people whose kids go to school every single day and maybe once a year they take them out for five days. It does not harm them at all. How do I know? Because my own kids are doing really, really well in school.”

Sounds like a regular guy airing pretty understandable gripes against an inflexible system. Every district should be lucky enough to have a Jon Platt on the parents’ side. As for moms and dads, any parent who thinks twice before taking kids out of school for a family vacation should think again. There’s learning in travel, too. You might just have to work a little harder for it in the end.

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