Truancy note web hoax revealed

The launch of was widely reported and condemned by unions

Website selling €7 absence notes to pupils prompted angry response - but it was a hoax plotted by a home tuition firm

EDUCATION chiefs, unions and the French media have been duped by a website claiming to sell fake absence letters to schoolchildren.

"Innovative start-up" announced it would start selling customised, signed letters to pupils wanting to get out of school for €7.90, or €34.90 for a pack of six.

Children could choose their excuse from hundreds including a family death, driving lesson or severely delayed train and download the letter to take to school with them on their return.

AFP, Le Figaro, Le Monde, Le Parisien, TF1 were among the news outlets that reported the site's planned April 12 launch in France and the reaction to it.

Parents' union FCPE described the idea as "pitiful". The secretary of teachers' union SNPDEN, Michel Richard, gave a quote condemning the site and calling on the Education Ministry to ban it. The ministry said it had asked its lawyers to examine the legality of the site.

Alarm bells started to ring when the site's press officer stopped answering journalists' questions. None of the three founders named on the site had any online history on a Google search.

Le Post did some further digging and found that the website address was registered to Ikonost, a large Belgian firm specialising in home tuition.

The company originally denied its involvement - and changed the domain name registration to an address in Monaco to cover its tracks. However it admitted last night that the site was a hoax, part of a publicity campaign for its home tuition services.

Iknost said the site was designed "to raise awareness of the problem of school absenteeism". Director Nathalie Genieux told Le Post that the site would be taken down in the next few days and replaced with a directory of children's charities as a sign of good faith.

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