Should parents be punished for your truancy?
West Virginia is taking a close look at their education system and the ongoing problem with students who are late to school or ditch full days.
A state senator is introducing a bill this legislative session that will result in the loss of driving privileges for parents. The aim of the bill is to attack high absenteeism and truancy. Senator Erik Wells explained that parents will receive a warning when their child hits five unexcused absences. When the number hits ten, their licenses will be revoked.
Mr. Wells commented that “You are hampering that child’s ability to succeed in life by keeping them out of school. Why should the state of West Virginia and the taxpayers of this state, who are perhaps going to have to take care of that child, allow you the privilege of driving? There needs to be consequences.”
Another option under consideration is suspending a student’s opportunity to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities. That would put the consequence directly on the offending student. See how other states are handling their truancy challenges including California where parents have served jail time for their kid’s truancy.
A different aproach to the problem was initiated in the Los Angeles School District in 2011. Rather than ticket students requiring them and their parents to appear in court, emphasis on the issues behind truancy are being addressed. School resource officers will focus on getting the student to school on time without the use of handcuffs, frisks and searches. A closer partnership with principals, parents and teachers is the goal.
In July, 2011, the Concord, California city council unanimously passed a daytime curfew for all students between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. This was in an effort to lessen daytime crime and rampant truancy. A first offense merits a warning by the police with subsequent violations carrying fines between $100 and $500. The court is authorized to issue a bench warrant for any student who fails to appear at the truancy hearing. An exception was included in the new law for students who are home-schooled.
In November, 2011, Halifax County in Virginia started the Tri-District Truancy Procedure. After more than six unexcused absences, the parents will be notified that they may be in violation of the state’s Compulsory Attendance Law. Once a student hits ten unexcused absences, the case goes to the principal who determines if the parents have made an effort to follow the law. If they haven’t the prosecutor steps in and the parents must appear in Truancy Court. Neglecting a child’s education is a class one misdemeanor in Virginia that carries up to 120 days in jail.
As you know, there is a night and day difference between an excused and unexcused absence. Even if you’re not sick, you may be allowed an excused absence for a good reason. Parents often take their kids out of school for a special trip or educational opportunity. As long as it’s not abused by repetitive absences, especially in higher grades, schools recognize the demands of family issues and schedules. Your responsibility, if excused, is to keep up with the work and turn in any required assignments.
Recently, the young daughters of President and Mrs. Obama missed some school. Their Christmas vacation took Malia (12) and Sasha (9) to Hawaii to be with family members. Their stay extended into the new semester by two days. It is not uncommon for parents to call in and excuse their kids for special occasions, family time, or just a mental health day. As long as the work is made up, no tests are missed, and it doesn’t become a habit, then it’s usually a non-issue.
Rather than taking parents to court for excessive truancy, an inventive 15-year-old has created a texting application that sends parents messages and emails when their kids skip school. Zak Kukoff tested his program in schools in several states. In New York, one-half of the chronically absent students returned to school the day the messages went out. An unexpected effect of his program was noticed in Los Angeles. When tested, the incidents of shoplifting dropped 82%. Take a look at Zak’s program at: www.truanttoday.com.