Mother on trial for teen missing school
A mother who kept her daughter out of school for two years because the teenager was not admitted to an elite secondary school of her choice stood trial yesterday for failing to comply with an Education Bureau attendance order.
Kowloon City Court was told that Kung Lai-kwan, 48, repeatedly ignored bureau orders to send her daughter, now aged 14, to school.
Kung, who said she was an unemployed single mother dependent on welfare, blamed the government for her child's inability to secure a place at competitive schools she deemed fit for a 'band one student'.
Although her daughter was admitted in 2010 to Hong Kong & Kowloon Chiu Chow Public Association Secondary School, Kung rejected the choice, preferring that the teenager study at the Methodist College.
'It is the Social Welfare Department's manipulation behind the scene which caused my daughter to have no school to go to,' she said, without elaborating.
'My daughter is an outstanding band one student and until now she has been unable to attend school.'
Deputy Magistrate Cherry Hui Shuk-yee asked Kung if she would consider allowing her daughter to attend classes in September so that the Education Bureau could drop the legal action.
'If I were you, for the good of your daughter, I would definitely arrange for her to go to school,' Hui said.
A representative from the Education Bureau, who did not give his name, confirmed in court that Kung could send her daughter to any of three schools - Chiu Chow, Lutheran Secondary School and Chan Shu Kui Memorial School - now offering her a place in the coming term.
The teenager could later reapply to Kung's favoured schools, he said.
But Kung rejected the offer, insisting only on entering either the Methodist College, True Light Girls' College, Queen Elizabeth School or Pui Ching Middle School.
Kung, who was not represented by a lawyer, denied receiving the attendance order and said she was made to believe that her daughter's transfer to the preferred schools was being processed.
However, Chow Ho-ming, a bureau official, testified that a letter was sent to Kung in November 2010, saying the teen would not be transferred.
Three warning letters were subsequently sent to Kung from March to May last year.
Chow said bureau officials tried to visit Kung, who lives in a subdivided flat in Yau Ma Tei, in June last year to serve her the attendance order, but Kung did not open the door.
They left the letter in her mailbox and later sent her another copy by registered mail.
Social worker Lai Pak-ki, who accompanied the officials during the visit, said he heard Kung shouting inside the flat, saying she wanted then-education chief Michael Suen Ming-yeung to deal with her case.
In 2010, a couple were jailed for three months for failing to send their son to school.