A primary schoolgirl was sent home from a end-of-term holiday by a headmistress because she was caught eating a 20p chocolate bar.
Excited Holli McCann, 11, tucked into the forbidden treats with two Year 6 room-mates on the first night of the week-long break to the Isle of Wight.
She described the secret snack in her first letter home which was read by teachers – even though it was in a sealed envelope.
They immediately searched her room – removing the lining of her suitcase and tipping out her toilet bag – in the hunt for more chocolate.
They found more bars and Holli was thrown off the holiday because she had breached a ‘charter’ banning chocolate.
A message was then sent to her mum Kerri telling her to urgently contact the school’s hotel.
Hard-line headmistress Yvonne Graves told her what had happened – and ordered her to come and collect her daughter immediately.
Mrs. Graves also accused Holli of misbehaving on the beach the previous day.
Kerri urged the head to reconsider but she refused and said if Holli wasn’t picked up she would have to attend all the planned activities but would not be allowed to join in any.
Fuming Kerri drove through the night from her home in Croxley Green, Herts. to make the 160-mile round trip with two ferry crossings to collect Holli.
The jobless mum had saved for six months to pay for the £300 holiday and was forced to borrow another £130 from family and friends to cover her own travel costs.
Kerri, 47, a full-time carer for her autistic son, said Holli and her two friends ate one chocolate bar each – but the other two escaped with warnings.
She said: “Holli had been so excited about the trip and was over the moon to get a room with her best friends.
“They had been planning the feast weeks before the trip and Holli was in charge of bringing the chocolate.
“It wasn’t even at midnight. They ate the chocolate at about 9.30pm and it only went on for about 15 minutes. It’s not like they were having a party or making noise.
“They didn’t leave any mess or chocolate marks and they only ate three bars – Holli came back with most of the chocolate.
“The teachers had no idea about it until they read Holli’s letter to me.
“I am furious that they read her letter – it is like being in prison. It’s not like she is five, she is 11 and deserves privacy in what she writes to her mum.
“The head organised an immediate search of Holli’s room and suitcase.
“Holli said she was really upset because they emptied her toiletry bag into the sink and pulled out the lining in her suitcase.
“It was carried out in such a manner you would have thought they were running an international drug smuggling operation from their hotel room.
“I don’t see how eating chocolate makes the holiday unsafe. They were not being naughty – they were just having fun.”
Kerri added: “I begged the head to punish Holli back at school with a detention or something, but she said if she did that it would set a precedent.
“I thought it was too cruel for her to stay on the trip and not be able to participate in any activities – they were going to a theme park the next day.
“I had to borrow money and I set off in the early hours and managed to get on the 5.30am ferry from Portsmouth and I got to the hotel at six in the morning.”
The school party set off to the Isle of White at 8.30am on July 1, but just day later Kerri received an urgent message from a neighbour at 7pm telling her Holli was in trouble.
Kerri withdrew her daughter from Bromet Primary School in Watford for the rest of her final term as she formally complained to the school and governors.
She has also written to Education Secretary Michael Gove.
Holli admitted taking four Kit Kats, Fudge bars and Freddos on the trip to share with friends.
But she denied misbehaving on the beach and said she got left behind the others as her flip flop had come off in the sea and she had to stop and get it.
Her mum believes she has been singled out as the ringleader because teachers found the confectionaries in her suitcase and have written proof of her eating in her room.
She said: “I complained to the head but she still hasn’t contacted me after making me go all the way to the Isle of Wight.
“Holli has also been very upset. This was a group of 11-year-old friends who were on a goodbye trip as they’re off to different secondary schools.
“Holli has missed all those memories with her friends. They would have been memories she would keep for ever.”
In a letter to Mrs Graves Kerri wrote: “What Holli did was wrong but your own behaviour and handling of the situation was disgraceful.
“I am astonished at the way you behaved and have decided that Holli will not be returning to Bromet for obvious reasons.”
The school refused to comment on the row but Hertfordshire County Council said: “Before the Year 6 trip to the Isle of Wight, parents and pupils were asked to sign a behaviour charter which clearly outlines how pupils should behave during the trip.
“This is to ensure that everyone can have a safe and enjoyable holiday.
“It was made clear that breaking any of the rules within the charter would result in parents being asked to take their child home, as was the case with this pupil.”
Owner of Beaufort House hotel in Sandown on the Isle of White Ian Savage said he enforces a policy of only allowing school parties to have bottled water in their rooms.
He said: “We ask school parties to keep fizzy drinks, sweets and chocolate in the downstairs areas and only allow bottled water in bedrooms.
“We are a hotel for schools for eight weeks of the year and a bed and breakfast for the rest of the year.
“If we get a bad review because there are sticky marks in the rooms we lose business.
“This school has stayed with us for the last two years and the behaviour of staff and pupils has been exemplary.
“We were surprised that someone was unhappy as the school are very good.”