A trip to the Walt Disney World Resort ended up costing more than $315,000, and it was only a week-long vacation. (And that didn’t include park tickets!)
Jon Platt’s daughter was only six years old when he decided to take her out of school for a seven-day vacation at the Most Magical Place on Earth. The family had been planning a vacation getaway that included 17 family members, and that one week in April 2015 was the only week that would work for everyone.
It’s not uncommon for families to take their children to the parks at Disney World during the school year. Some do it to avoid the crowds, some do it because the ticket prices are a bit less expensive, and some do it because it’s the only time that will work for the family to visit.
But Jon Platt lives in the United Kingdom, and his daughter goes to school in the U.K. British truancy laws are tough, and school attendance is mandatory. Missing school in the U.K. can cost parents a fine, which is exactly what happened to the Platts.
Upon returning from a magical vacation in Central Florida at Disney World, Platt’s daughter went back to school, and Platt was fined £120, which is approximately $150 USD, but Platt refused to pay it. Instead, he decided to fight the fine that had been imposed on him.
According to Metro, Platt was convicted of “failing to ensure his child regularly attended school after a court heard clearing him would ‘undermine Parliament’ and go ‘against public interest’ following a Supreme Court ruling.”
In June 2017, during a hearing held at Isle of Wight Magistrates’ Court, Jeannie Walker, one of the magistrates, said it was clear the school rules were broken.
“The circumstances of this case fall squarely into that breach of school rules,” Walker said.
During that hearing, Jon Platt was sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge. He was also ordered to pay costs of £2,020, or almost $2,550 USD.
Once outside the court, Platt said he had spent “close to £30,000” (or $37,850 USD) in his legal battle. But he says he wouldn’t appeal the magistrate’s decision any further.
“This is the end for me now, this has gone on for far too long, and far too much money has been spent by me and the taxpayer,” Platt said. “I’ve spent close to £30,000, a Freedom of Information request found £140,000 has been spent by the taxpayer, but if you include the Supreme Court legal costs I think it isn’t far off a quarter of a million [pounds].”
£250,000 is approximately $316,000 USD.
“Way too much money has been spent but I’m not going to appeal it,” Platt continued. “I don’t agree with the magistrates’ decision but I’m going to respect it. I’m sure there are parents out there that hate me and I’m sure there are some who think I’m a hero. But at the end of the day, I turned up to court to say ‘not guilty’ to an offense I’m not guilty of.”
Platt’s legal battle lasted two long years, and his case was eventually heard by the Supreme Court. Platt’s attorneys attempted to prove their case by explaining that Platt’s daughter had an attendance record in school of 92.3%. But it didn’t seem to make a difference, as the entire panel of judges ruled against him.
During the hearing, one of Platt’s attorneys, Paul Greatorex, argued that the continued prosecution of Platt was unfair and unjust. There was even a request made to have the case thrown out.
According to Metro:
Paul Greatorex outlined his case for an ‘abuse of process’ argument by saying Platt’s daughter had an attendance level between 90 and 95 percent which the school deemed as ‘satisfactory’.
Mr. Greatorex QC said the documents Platt received from the school were ‘completely vague’ and it was not made clear that if he took her on an unauthorized holiday he would receive a fixed penalty notice and be prosecuted if he did not pay it.
He also said it was ‘grossly unfair’ to ‘criminalize’ Platt despite being told his daughter’s attendance was ‘satisfactory’ and that a holiday would not change that.