Hawkinge dad says he'd rather be jailed than pay holiday fine
A FATHER says he would rather go to prison than pay a fine for taking his daughter to Pontins during school term time.
Jobless Chris Epps asked The Churchill School in Hawkinge for permission to take his daughter Jazmin, 7, out of school for a week so she could go on a family trip to Brean Sands Holiday Park.
The school refused, but Mr Epps and his unemployed partner, Alex Payne, 28, headed off to Somerset with Jazmin, Luco, 4, and 18-month-old Jake in March.
The primary school issued the family with a £50 fine, which doubled to £100 after 28 days, and Mr Epps and Miss Payne have now been served summonses to appear before Folkestone Magistrates' Court in September.
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Unbowed, the 32-year-old, from Millfield, Hawkinge, said this week: "I'd rather go to prison than pay up, it's the principle."
Mr Epps said the family booked the £140 break during term time because it was cheaper than going in the school holidays, but they were forced to cut the trip short when Jazmin fell sick. He claimed the school initially logged the absence as illness-related but later changed it to unauthorised.
He said: "We'd saved up because we couldn't afford to go anywhere during the school holidays, and it turned out to be the holiday from hell anyway because Jazmin got sick.
"I see it as legalised extortion. The school first classed it as sick, but then went back on their word in their records, they've back-stabbed us. It was only five days, we haven't persistently done this and she hasn't had loads of holidays in her life.
"She's entitled to a holiday and there's no victim here."
The school was unavailable for comment as the Herald went to press, and Kent County Council declined to make a statement.