Jail parents for missing a parent-teacher conference?
Detroit, Michigan, like many cities across the country, has a problem with truancy, drop-out rates and parents who fail to supervise their kids. The average student missed 46 days last school year. A recent homicide in the city highlighted the issue for District Attorney Kym Worthy.
In August, 2009, Detroit police were investigating the killing of a 24-year old girl. They went to the home of 12-year old Demarco Harris who had missed a lot of school and whose parents rarely met with his teachers. It was two in the morning and Demarco’s parents didn’t know where he was. Eventually the boy was found, charged and convicted of killing Trisha Babcock. He was sentenced to a high-security juvenile lockup.
Worthy is working on a law for her county that would result in three days in jail for parents who repeatedly miss parent-teacher conferences. The law requires parents to attend one conference a year. If the first is missed, it would be re-scheduled within 14 days. If that one is missed, a letter would go out advising the parents of sanctions including jail time.
There are no such laws in any state but Texas and Kentucky have tried to pass similar legislation. In Kentucky, the bill required parents to attend one conference each year for each child. Failure would have meant a $50 fine. A Texas bill called for a $500 fine and classified missing a scheduled parent conference as a misdemeanor. Both bills lost.
Worthy plans to introduce her bill to the County Commissioners in August, 2010. If successful, she may take it to the Michigan legislature for statewide application.
What do you think of this proposed law? Is jail an appropriate penalty for not going to parent-teacher conferences? Does such a requirement invade the parent-child relationship, especially for students who attend school and earn good grades?