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French city to introduce fines for parents late to school pick-up

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
French city to introduce fines for parents late to school pick-up
Pupils stand outside a school in the city of Toulouse in September 2023. (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

A southern French city has become the latest education authority to begin issuing fines for tardy parents who are late to pick up their children.

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The southern French city of Toulouse has informed parents that if they are late to pick up their children from after-school care, or Clae (Centre de loisirs associé à l’école) then they will be subject to fines during the upcoming school year.

Most French schools end at 4.30pm but parents have the option of after-school care, which usually ends at 6.30pm - offering a more feasible pick-up time for working parents.

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For those in the Toulouse school district, "any delay in the evening may result in a flat fine of €30, which corresponds to the salary of the two childcare providers forced to stay late", French news site 20 Minutes reported.

READ MORE: Are packed lunches really banned in French schools?

The news has caused anger amongst parents. The left-wing LFI MP, François Piquemal, who represents the city in parliament, took to Twitter to call the measure unfair, as it targets "residents who have jobs that are not very flexible or who work far away from their homes or children's schools."

The head of the local parents' association, the FCPE, Eric Pinot, told 20 Minutes that the "town hall does not know what families are going through".

"Parents who leave their kids in after-school care don't do so for fun. it is often because they have to juggle complicated professional lives, and it is usually the most vulnerable families," before adding that he was concerned it would negatively impact single-parent families in particular.

As for the Toulouse local official heading up education, Marion Lalane-de Laubadère, she told the French press that "the facilitators forced to stay late have lives too".

"It is obviously not a question of punishing five-minute delays, which can happen to everyone, but of teaching principles and discernment", she said, adding that the fine would be directed mainly at "the parents who - on a regular basis and without us being able to contact them or the relatives listed on the contact form - up to an hour and a half late and fail to give notice".

Toulouse is not the only area considering fining parents for tardiness.

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The commune of Moreuil, in the Somme département also started introducing fines of €5 for every five minutes past the pick-up time, then €10 for a half-hour, and up to €50 for those who are over an hour late to pick-up after the end of the school-day. 

In Pyrénées-Atlantiques, the town of Morlaàs, also started charging parents for being late. They fine €5 for the first delay, and then €15 for any subsequent lateness.

Meanwhile, the town of Ferté-Bernrd, in the Sarthe département, is deliberating adding a fine for late or 'repeat offender' parents. 

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