EDUCATION officials have stressed that taking parents to court for not ensuring their children regularly attend school is very much a last resort.
This comes after new figures released to the Target under the Freedom of Information Act revealed five parents in Boston faced court proceedings for the offence between March 1, 2011 and February 29 this year.
Any adult who has day-to-day care for a child has a legal responsibility to ensure they receive an education regardless of whether they are the mother or father.
If they do not do so they can be prosecuted and face prison or a fine of up to £2,500 although a fixed penalty notice of £50 to £100 may be issued in some circumstances as an alternative.
Lincolnshire County Council is responsible for providing what is described as "preventative support" to all maintained schools in the area while academies can choose to use the authority's services or go elsewhere for legal matters.
County council inclusion and attendance team leader David Coates told the Target legal proceedings are usually taken up as a "last resort."
He said: "Before prosecuting parents, schools and, where relevant, the local authority, we will try to work with parents to identify and resolve any attendance issues.
"This may involve signposting to appropriate support agencies and, or using school based strategies such as reduced/amended timetables or mentoring.
"This support usually involves school meetings and home visits and close communication between the family and the professionals involved.
"This support from either schools and/or the council's education welfare service can take as long as required and as long the parents are engaging with the support and trying to cooperate.
"If parents refuse this support it can lead swiftly to legal proceedings. Total non-cooperation leads more quickly to a prosecution.
"Before starting legal proceedings, schools or education welfare officers consider if an education supervision order is relevant.
"All cases that get recommended for a prosecution are considered carefully by a legal panel before the parents receive a summons.
"Legal proceedings are used as a strategy to get parents to engage and to get the child to attend regularly."