'City nomad' faces prosecution for truancy
23 February 2005, AMSTERDAM — Amid reports of rising truancy rates, the Amsterdam public prosecutor is considering pressing charges against the father of six children who have not been to school for two and a half years and live as city nomads in the Dutch capital.
23 February 2005
AMSTERDAM — Amid reports of rising truancy rates, the Amsterdam public prosecutor is considering pressing charges against the father of six children who have not been to school for two and a half years and live as city nomads in the Dutch capital.
"Abbie" van der Louw, who has a total of eight children and no fixed address, has been described as living in various caravans with his family in the Westelijk Havengebeid in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam man converted to Islam years ago and has since lived "differently", local broadcaster AT5 reported.
The Liberal VVD and Labour PvdA parties in the Amsterdam Council have demanded action from Social Affairs Alderman Ahmed Aboutaleb.
But the alderman has claimed his hands are tied, asserting that authorities are being confronted by a man who is totally convinced he is right and who believes his children belong at home.
A compulsory education officer at the city's prosecution department, Saskia de Klerk, is now claiming that prosecution of Van der Louw is a distinct possibility given the fact his children have not been to school for such a long time.
She also pointed out parents can be fined if they return from holiday too late and their child misses just one day of school, newspaper Het Parool reported on Wednesday.
Authorities are now awaiting a report from the public servant responsible for compulsory education at Osdorp district council.
Van den Louw has sparked heated controversy in the past. Besides the fact that his children do not go to school, social workers have also raised concern about the physical care afforded to the man's family.
Amsterdam Court ruled at the end of December that the children should be placed in temporary custody of the Youth Care Bureau. There is a good chance that the order will become permanent.
Van der Louw claims he wants to send his children to school, but not to an Amsterdam institute. He is currently locked in arguments with several school boards.
His case is one of an increasing number of truancy files the public prosecutor is handling in Amsterdam.
In 2003, there were 731 cases and 124 fines issued compared with 795 cases and 169 fines last year. On a nationwide basis, the public prosecution said it handled 5,000 truancy cases last year, triple the amount recorded in 1998, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
About half of these cases come before a magistrate, who often imposes a work order or issues a fine to hardcore truanting students.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news