Can expat kids be kept out of school?

| 13/12/2018

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian statusDoes the government keep track of children attending school on island? Cayman is very transient. Is it possible to move to the island with my family and not enroll my children in school? How is that monitored, aside from nosy neighbours? However, if ever questioned, the person could lie and say they were homeschooling. Can this be independently verified or does a formal complaint have to come about?

How about when children leave the island, does the school notify the government that the child should no longer be monitored for attendance? Or semi-long-term residents? Some people bring their children on island for 4-6 months at a time. They are officially visitors. What is done about those children?

Auntie’s answer: You certainly have compiled quite a list of questions. But, luckily, the Department of Education Services (DES) took the time to answer every one of them.

First off, though, I want to point you to an earlier column I did on this topic (see Making sure kids go to school) which you also might find helpful.

Now I will go through your questions one by one, with all the information provided by DES. All children who are enrolled in government schools are tracked through the Student Information Management System; in addition, three truancy officers are employed across the three islands, charged with monitoring attendance and investigating school reports of not attending or registering. Other agencies or individuals can make these reports as well.

The answer is a resounding “no” on the possibility of moving here and not sending your children to school; that would be illegal. The Education Law, 2016 mandates that all children of compulsory school age (5-17) must be enrolled in a government or private school, or be home schooled, for at least five hours a day for each official school day.

In addition to the so-called nosy neighbours, there are official entities that keep an eye of school attendance, including the DES Office of Registration and Truancy Services, the Department of Immigration (DOI) and the Department of Children and Family Services, as well as other government offices and key people in the community.

As for lying about a child being home schooled, proof of that status needs to be verified through DOI and DES by completing a specific form (RS101) and submitting a school admission letter or home-school certificate of operation. Any related complaints that the DES receives will be investigated and “dealt with through the appropriate government agencies”. For more information on home schooling, you can read this previous column.

When a family leaves Cayman, the parents of a child in a government school must complete a formal withdrawal form either at the school or the DES. Once that form is processed, the DES will then “deactivate” the student from the Student Information Management System as well as remove the name from the active school register so his or her attendance will no longer be monitored. In addition, Truancy Services will follow up to confirm the child has left the island.

If expat children are only here for some months, they will be considered visitors, but if they remain over the visitor extension period, then DOI will advise the parents of the Education Law and the consequences of not enrolling them in school. In addition, DOI will request the children be repatriated to their home country to attend school.

If children are removed from school here, the parents must provide a reason in writing for taking them out or complete a withdrawal form along with specifying the educational programme the children will be attending on-island or if they will continue their education overseas.

And lastly, for good measure and continuing the theme, I also asked that since immigration requires proof that children of work permit holders are in school, what happens if they are taken out of school in between permit renewals? Are private schools monitored? The answer is that school attendance officers are tasked with investigating infractions for students in government schools only. However, if “children from private schools are caught up in a DES truancy sweep, these cases are dealt with on a case-by-case basis and reported to the respective private school”.

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Category: Ask Auntie, Education Questions

Comments (27)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    But if I as a Caymanian always had my child in private school, stopped sending my child to private school because I no longer had the money to pay for it did not want my child to go to public school and allowed my child a semester or year off school. Then Aunties response is that the government wouldn’t follow up within a week/month to query what I’m doing with my child? Or I decided to temporarily leave the island and returned on island permanently but did not enroll my child in school? There is no one to check up on it.

    I understand there is the law. But many don’t know about them, while others don’t care. In this situation, the child suffers. There should be more to this than following only public school enrolled children. There could be hundreds of children on island that are school age that don’t attend school or homeschooled and may actually be working.

    I’ve personally seen some expats kids visit the island for months at a time visiting their parents and are publicly working. They are working with their parents, they get paid and tourists give them tips. It is a terrible state of affairs and this topic should be taken seriously by politicians.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ah, but you see they refuse to ensure immigration does its job, and so immigration does not do its job, and so the people get upset, and so the government gets rid of the department of immigration. Over to you Sharon. Will they let you do your job?

  2. Anonymous says:

    They are, by the Government.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If Government is keeping track of children it will know exactly who is going to school and where. That would include boarding schools overseas. The results of an FOI request asking how many Cayman resident children attend school outside Cayman would be interesting. My guess is they have no idea.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have to say, if a child is home school, the Government DOES NOT FOLLOW UP. I myself know this as a fact. Someone I know was home schooling but it didn’t seem as if the children were ever tested. I called the Education Department and spoke to the head (I forgot his name), he assured me someone would check into this. Three years, no one came to this person’s house to do any form of spot checking or testing. So, sorry to say the Dept of Education does not due any due dillgence!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        I think we almost all know that. Auntie seems to still trust what government tells her, but maybe a little more experience will help learn her. Such a shame.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Not even on island yet, and already looking for ways to skirt rules and cheat their own kid out of necessary social interactions and brain development. What a bonehead move.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is a local noisy neighbor who posted the question. Someone who has nothing to do but find wrongs with others. It seems that his/her imagination gone wild.
      MYOB I would have answered.
      @2.24 You’re making assumptions as well.

      • Anonymous says:

        Quite apart from it being a parental duty, it should be pretty clear for all parents to understand what the law requires: “…all children of compulsory school age (5-17) must be enrolled in a government or private school, or be home schooled, for at least five hours a day for each official school day”.

        Doing an FOI on whether or not any CIG agency correctly supervises the Education Law (or any of a multitude of other laws), does not change, or excuse anyone from following the law.

        It’s true that someone coming from a place where laws are optional may not understand that principle.

        • Anonymous says:

          Get a life.

          • Anonymous says:

            Mine’s fine, but doesn’t sound like you would set up your kids for much of one by deliberately keeping them from school.

            • Anonymous says:

              Well, my kids are out of college already.
              All kids go to school these days. And if one skips a week, month or semester for unknown to you reasons, lets not jump to conclusions.
              Worry about your own kids. Leave someone elses to their parents.

              • Anonymous says:

                Because it is a child’s right to have an education and it is the parents responsibility to ensure that happens with the government as the overarching watchdog to ensure that happens.

                An uneducated society will not progress.

        • Anonymous says:

          Why should a 16 year old with 9 cxc’s go to school for 5 hours a day? They have completed their compulsory education. Just goes to show how ridiculous the whole system is.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well my child was mercilessly bullied in one of the “reputable” local schools. The staff were unwilling to help probably because of financial reasons.
    If your child is gifted, the chances are you would not want them beaten down and their soul destroyed.
    Give them every support you can even if it means homeschooling. The current state of affairs is a disgrace. Perhaps the homeschooling families need to get together and……..make a school. Lol. Funny that, eh?
    When the salt is gone, the meat rots.

    • Anonymous says:

      The treatment of gifted children in both the public and private sectors is awful. There is simply no way they can receive their education in any school in Cayman. Home schooling or schooling overseas are the only options. It is Cayman’s loss.

  6. Anonymous says:

    But expat kids are not allowed to attend public school. So this entire response means these children are not monitored.

    • Anonymous says:

      And many Caymanian children do not attend public school, so even they are not monitored either. Government is inept. We should just get used to it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Side note. Partly since they do not know how to tell a Caymanian from an expat there are many expat kids in public schools.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are hundreds of expat kids in government schools.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can pay to send to public school if the private schools are full or too costly an option. Lots of people do this.

      • Anonymous says:

        Pay? How much? And shouldn’t anyone who pays money for their children to be sent to some of those places be reported to social services?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Poor auntie so naive to think that any of that actually happens.

    • Bin there,dun that. says:

      Quite agree; all of that is pie in the sky.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. Since when has the fact that something is illegal stopped anything? There are many kids (including expats born in Cayman) who are totally off any government radar. Some even become adults after a lifetime of unsupervised and unchecked home schooling.