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Parents of Dead Teen Get Shocking Letter

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Manchester Evening News: The parents of a British girl who died suddenly two months ago have been sent a letter from her school demanding she improves her attendance.

Megan Gillan

Signed by the deputy headmaster, the letter threatened to ban Megan Gillan from the end-of-year prom.


Her parents Mark and Margaret said they were `floored' by the letter from Macclesfield High. Megan, 15, was found dead in her bedroom on January 19 at the family home. The letter -- dated March 16 -- said 'students must have at least 92 percent attendance and Megan's is currently 60.4 percent.'

Mrs. Gillan, who works at Macclesfield Hospital, said: "I screamed when I first saw it. If they want her to attend that much I'll take Megan's remains. It's disgusting. Megan doesn't go to that school anymore. She's been dead for two months now so it's not surprising her attendance is low. I was pulling myself together to go back to work, but receiving the letter has just floored me."


"Megan would have loved going to the prom. She planned to go with a group of friends, she was really looking forward to it." The letter carried the signature of deputy head G. White. Headteacher Ged Ward has now apologized for the 'software error.'


Mr. Ward said: "Clearly that letter should not have gone out. I want to make my apology to Megan's parents and can only apologize for the distress that it has caused. The letter was sent out to all year 11 parents regarding the school prom. We didn't think to check it. With hindsight we would have checked all 150 of them. The problem is a software problem."

'Never forgive'

But the family say they could never forgive the mistake. Mr. Gillan, 53, a civic attendant for Macclesfield Borough council, found Megan in her bedroom. He said: "To send a letter to her family when you are trying to come to terms with her death is just not right." Mr. Ward said the school uses the software SIMS (School Information Management Systems) which is produced by Capita.


He said: "Unknown to the school, Megan's details had remained in a different part of the computer system and were called up when the school did a mail merge letter to the parents of all Year 11 students. The letter called up details of each student's attendance for the whole year to date and because Megan had been on roll in September, she was included. Capita has acknowledged to the school that there is a problem with this part of its software and is working to remedy it, because they realize that it could affect other schools. Capita has asked the school to convey their apologies to Mr. and Mrs. Gillan."


Phil Neal, managing director of Capita Children's Services, said: "What has happened is absolutely tragic and our thoughts are with Megan's family. Capita Children's Services supply a software system known as SIMS to Macclesfield High School. Among many other tasks, the software keeps track of pupils' attendance at the school and the school is able to produce letters to parents based on this information. When a child is no longer attending a school, for whatever reason, the software will allow the school to continue to produce letters to their parents as occasionally it is necessary to do so. It appears that this is what has happened in this case which everyone involved deeply regrets."


The cause of Megan's death is still not known and an inquest is expected in the next few months. Megan, the youngest of four sisters, would have turned 16 next month.

Following her death, Megan's parents spoke of their shock at losing their 'beautiful and bright' daughter. She was thought to have been having problems at school. Friends set up a special site, 'R.i.p Megan Gillan x1993-2009x' on social networking site bebo -- which has been visited more than 3,000 times.


At the time of her death, headteacher Mr. Ward led tributes to Megan. He said: "Megan was a popular, bright girl, with a promising future ahead of her. She will be missed by everyone. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to her parents and family."

Do you think the parents have a right to be mad ... or was this just a simple computer error? Sound off in the momlogic community!

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629 comments so far | Post a comment now
lelle18 March 26, 2009, 6:21 AM

I feel deeply sorry for the parents to have received this letter…but forgive the school already!!! It wasn’t intentional.

Arnold Sphincterspanker March 26, 2009, 6:35 AM

The “error” was not in the software, the error was someone not entering the teens information into the system for the software to do its job correctly.

Kay March 26, 2009, 6:38 AM

That would had made me angry getting aletter from the school. Computers are great in alot of ways….but thats the problem…they’re not human. Only machines. In time maybe the parents will get over the letter…but the school need to watch closer whats going on… We depend way too much on computers…Hope the family heal and understand what happen was only a mistake by a computer by human programming. God be with the family and the school start checking what they send out more carefully.

Donna March 26, 2009, 6:47 AM

Oh my….tragic. A friend of mine had a similar situation many, many years ago. Her son died a few days after his birth, but 5 years later, she received a letter from the school inquiring why he hadn’t been registered for kindergarden.

Karen March 26, 2009, 7:03 AM

I can understand the parents being upset but it seems to me the school has given a very sincere apology. That should be enough but I can picture a lawsuit coming up—-as if money can make them feel better?

Croppy Cait March 26, 2009, 7:22 AM

Oh dear…simply another example of typical English awareness and sensitivity. But what else can we expect from such third world toilets, or their citizens.

tired of it too March 26, 2009, 7:27 AM

I’m still getting computer generated mailings to my now 8 years deceased wife.A program could be written but ………..!

NaKole March 26, 2009, 7:33 AM

Software subsequently had something to do with it but all the school had to do was delete her from the system, duh!!! That’s just like if I dropped my child from that school and went somewhere else. She is no longer a student there.

willow finn March 26, 2009, 7:57 AM

It was obviously not intentional. Mail merge documents are a separate entity from the database the rest of the information resides on. Its pretty darn easy to forget all the places info can live.

Unfortunate error, yes, but obviously the people at the school feel bad, and they did not do it intentionally.

cherokkewoman March 26, 2009, 8:00 AM

I agree you should forgive the school the system they are using is electronic like everything else in this world it has no feelings doesnt answer or ask questions and thats how we are forced to live by answering machines with robotics answers rather it be on paper or on the phone its all the same I think things should be taken in person enough is enopugh with this world avoiding the issues at hand

lynn March 26, 2009, 8:00 AM

crappy cait: You are one of the reasons there is so much bigotry in this world. UK is not a 3rd world country and if they were not our allies we would all be speaking another language. You Crappy are the Toilet mouth. Get educated you sure need it. We would have no USA as all the pilgrims came from UK.

D Wrenn March 26, 2009, 8:03 AM

I know the SIMS software, the system didn’t have the withdrawal information keyed in - this is called User Error not Software error

A Feronti March 26, 2009, 8:14 AM

Okay, so a computer generated the letter. We get that. But a HUMAN signed it. Does Mr. Ward routinely sign things without looking at what he is signing? And then, beyond that, someone stuffed those letters into envelopes and mailed them. The death of a student is a significant incident; and it didn’t happen all that long ago. I would think that Megan’s name should have triggered some action on someone’s part. Saying it’s a software error is passing the buck.

Aggie March 26, 2009, 8:18 AM

They only mailed out 11 letters and not one person checked the addresses. So much for their office staff. My condolences to the family.

cat March 26, 2009, 8:23 AM

The family is grieving, and trying to move on, I feel for them, but it was an error. NOT intentional. they appologized. You must move on for your other children and for your daughters memory. God Bless.

Stephen B March 26, 2009, 8:32 AM

Aggie, they mailed the letters to 150 parents for students who were to graduate in 2011. Yes, this was a human error by the reader.

gjb March 26, 2009, 8:34 AM

These parents need to move on instead of taking their pain out on the school. This was just a computer or clerical error. I know the school was not out to hurt anyone, it was just a mistake. Maybe the family needs to look at themselves in order to deal with the what is going on instead making accusations at the school but, of course, they will probably sue the school. What’s new

Heather March 26, 2009, 8:35 AM

So are they gonna sue over emotional distress? I am sorry but this is not exactly distressing. Anyone with half a brain knows these are computer generated and sent out. Not every single person in the scool knew their daughter. Stuff happens. Time to get over it. But that wouldnt make for a good lawsuit would it? @@

Nic March 26, 2009, 8:38 AM

Wow, just goes to show these schools are just “going through the motions”, and not trying at all to be one on one with students. Awfully sad, and quite disturbing!

annie March 26, 2009, 8:40 AM

there is no excuse for this. this is the loss of a child, not someone who moved down the street, or changed their name.

there is no excuse. stupidity should never be excused. sorry, not when it comes to such a tragic event as this.

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