Critical parents more likely to take schools to court

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More parent are seeking legal advice to settle conflicts with their children’s schools, Trouw reported on Friday.

Insurance company Achmea says its legal insurance department handled 784 cases to do with disagreements over education last year. ARAG Insurance now gets 300 requests a year when five years ago it did not have any lawyers specialised in education, the paper said.

Both companies say the increase is due to parents being more critical and willing to take on schools, as in the case of a mother who disputes a decision by her daughter’s primary school to put the girl in a combination class of group 3 and 4 pupils. The mother wants her in a group with group 4 pupils only. Her case will be decided on Friday.

This type of conflict is common, Achmea lawyer Darinka Schilstra told Trouw. ‘A shortage of places or not being admitted to a certain group can cause problems. Parents say: why not make up a new group? Then I have to explain that too has legal implications.’

The case comes in the wake of other, much publicised cases, such as the girl who went to court to force her school to up her French grade in order to gain an overall pass. Her case was dismissed but a woman who blamed a school because her children missed out on the school photograph was backed by the judge.

Most cases do not end up in court, however, and can be solved via talks or mediation. Of the 300 cases handled by insurer ARAG some 10 to 20 end up in court, Trouw writes.

Mediation

Both educational organisations and parents’ organisations say dialogue or mediation is the way forward. ‘Going to court is a last resort,’ Ad Veen, of primary education organisation PO Raad told Trouw.

‘It is not in the interest of children when schools and parents fight,’ the paper quotes Peter Hulsen, of parents’ organisation Ouders & Onderwijs as saying.