Summer holidays: do parents who pick up their child from school too early risk sanctions?

In less than two weeks, on July 7, students from all over France will leave the classroom for a two-month vacation. However, many parents decide themselves to mark the end of the school year by going on vacation before the end date of the course. If in most cases a simple word from the parents to the teachers and principals is enough, they in theory expose themselves to sanctions. So, according to the website of the public service: “if you do not justify the absence of your child or if you give incorrect reasons, you risk a fine of 135 €”.

“If these unjustified absences endanger your child’s education, you risk 2 years in prison and a €30,000 fine,” we can also read. According to Article L131-8 of the Education Code, “when a child temporarily misses class, the responsible persons must inform the director of the educational institution of the reasons for this absence.

No school “à la carte”

The Ministry of Education and Youth, reached by telephone, indicates that “prolonged, repeated and unjustified absences” are punishable by law. “For example, if a student is absent from today, while the summer holidays don’t start until July 7, this is a long absence, so it is punishable by law. However, we recommend that you enter into a dialogue with the parents of students in the event of early departure in connection with the summer holidays,” we are told.

“No school can be founded à la carte for the students. Reasons not provided for by law must be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the governmental authority responsible for education. In any case, holidays included outside the school holidays included in the national school calendar do not constitute a legitimate reason for a student’s absence, “adds the ministry, specifying that a risk of criminal sanctions is possible” in case of absent from school without a legitimate reason or valid excuse for at least four half-days in the month”.

But do the “offending” parents really risk being fined for taking their child out of school too early to go on vacation? In practice, the sanctions and fines described on the public service website are rarely applied.

An anticipation of branch directors

For example, the Federation of Parents’ Councils (FCPE) confides that it has never heard of such sanctions against parents of students who are supporters of early holidays. “Honestly, we’ve had no feedback on fines or sanctions, rather the opposite. Many schools have sent messages asking parents to report any absences from June 10. It’s also quite surprising that a headteacher asks these kinds of things in advance,” said Éric Labastie, Secretary General of the Federation.

The latter, in particular, regrets that the month of June is neglected in terms of learning: “We want this month of June to have a real educational, school dimension. We realize that the third quarter, in the second degree, will end at the end of May-beginning of June. Teachers are obliged to organize their learning progress according to departure on vacation, which is a shame. »

No sanction or fine has been reported on the side of the academies either. This is particularly the case at the Academy of Aix-Marseille. “Actually, there is an official class outing on 7 July and it is up to the parents to take their responsibility. The possible sanctions are decisions that are made on a case-by-case basis, but we have not heard anything from our side about sanctions against parents,” the academy explains. Ditto for the unitary national union of teachers and school teachers, which has never heard of a hardening of tone against parents.

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