My wife and I have been asked to attend an "interview under caution" by Lambeth Council (a local authority in London) regarding our daughter's lack of school attendance (both her GP and a child psychologist are of the opinion that she has an anxiety disorder).
[Under Section 444(1A) of the Education Act 1996 it is an offense if a child is absent without authorization and the parent knew about the child's absence and failed. Sanctions include a fine of up to £2500 and a prison sentence of up to 3 months]
[I am using quotes around "interview under caution" because it doesn't sound like an interview under caution from what I have read online, but these are the words used by the council's legal department in their letter to us]
We have been told that we are not allowed to bring a solicitor to this meeting: the meeting will be between the local authority, us, and the school only.
We are very concerned about what will be said at this meeting, because it appears that incorrect information has been given to the local authority by the school (e.g. that we haven't asked for a referral to child mental health services, although we have), and other information has been withheld (e.g. the private psychologist's report detailing the anxiety issues, which was sent to the school in November).
We are also concerned that, in the stressful environment of an interview under caution, my wife and I will not be able to remember facts that we later rely on in court. We are both finding this very stressful: I have been shaking uncontrollably, and both of us have been crying, both when we discuss this between ourselves and at meetings with the school.
There have been a couple of face-to-face meetings and dozens of emails between us and the school: remembering everything that we have said, and when, is going to be very difficult under "interview with caution" circumstances.
So: how can we prepare for this meeting under caution when we are not allowed a solicitor and we are both too stressed to be rational? Is there some way we can ask to see the communications between the school and the council so that at least we will know in advance what we will be accused of doing or not doing?
[We have already had a solicitor send a letter to the council attempting to correct the inaccuracies. The council responded to that letter, ignoring the evidence we supplied in it, and just re-iterated the original claims of the school (i.e. that there is no medical issue). Part of my concern is that we will turn up to the interview under caution with the medical evidence, and then there will be something else that the school has said that we are then unable to come up with a good explanation for in the stressful circumstances even though there might be one.]