Wednesday, March 16, 2005


41% of parents skip truancy meeting (Knoxville News Sentinel - Registration Required)
'Cecelia Donaldson, who received a letter about her 5-year-old grandson's absences, came to West High on Tuesday, but she refused to enter the auditorium where the other parents heard remarks from [Randy] Nichols, Superintendent Charles Lindsey, Juvenile Court Referee Cynthia Chapman and Knoxville Police Lt. Gary Price.

"I don't want to hear what Randy Nichols has to say," said Donaldson, who said her grandson has asthma and other medical problems. "He needs to call my house when (my grandson is) up at 3 in the morning throwing up everything he ate."

Donaldson said she was furious after receiving Nichols' letter.

"I sat down and I ate three Mr. Goodbars because I was so angry," she said, adding, "You can't lump parents in one group." '
There's just nothing you can add to that.

Seriously, of course you can't lump parents in one group. But the point is that when a child has 10 or more unexcused absences, that's when inquiries need to be made and actions taken. If the child is legitimately ill, then there shouldn't be a problem getting the absences excused. If the parent or guardian neglected to follow through with explaining the absence, then it's their own fault and they have nothing to complain about.
'Rhonda Garren, the community prosecution coordinator in the attorney general's office, said she did not know the details of individual cases, but she said officials investigate each one.

"I feel we do as fair a job as possible in working with these parents," she said. "Some of the excuses they give us are not viable." '
Obviously, the point of this exercise is to rectify actual truancy problems by bringing them to attention of the parents and making clear that continuing neglect of their children will not be tolerated. And shouldn't be.

And eating a candy bar won't make it better.

UPDATE (03/17/05)
Reader C.I. Abramson does his homework in the comments and comes up with the following:
'In most cases with a child as described the care taker is trained to handle the ongoing medical problem on a daily basis otherwise the medical cost to the childs family would be astronomical.

OK, after a convoluted search I have found reference to the "time for time" policy. This is copied from Pricipal Clifford David, Jr's ( message from the Karns High School web site in Knox County Tennessee.
Time for Time Attendance Policy – For those students who accumulate 5 absences from a class, written notification will be sent to the parents or guardians. Class absences over 6 must be made up by attending a Time for Time session in order to receive credit for the class at the end of the term. Session dates and times will be announced within the next few days.
(This is with MDs excuses or any other viable excuse)

This is not the same as the attendance policy listed at ( "the official Knox County School Board [policy]'
So it looks like there may even be discrepencies between official Knox County School Board policy and local school policy in some cases.

I still think what needs to be qualified to parents is what constitutes "excused" vs. "unexcused" absences.

From the KCSB policy:
Acceptable (excusable) conditions for students being absent from school include:
1. Personal illness;
2. Illness in the family temporarily requiring help from the child;
3. Death in the family;
4. Recognized religious holidays regularly observed by persons of the student's faith;
5. Verifiable family emergency

Any absence not complying with the above reasons for excused absences will be considered as unexcused.

Examples of unexcused absences are a) family vacations taken during the school year and b) Senior Skip Day.
I didn't realize Senior Skip Day was an officially recognized Day :)

But if you take this above and apply it to the complaints of the parents in the article written above, any personal illness of the child is excused. Any illness in the family requiring temporary help from the child is excused (which I would take to mean originally farm work and such, but could be interpreted in different ways today).

So what does this all mean? Who knows, except that people are more willing to fuss adn argue than work things out reasonably and logically when it comes to their kids. And it's funny how some parents will make a huge cry when their own "rights" are threatened, but allow their kids to run free otherwise.

Funny, that. And we blame the kids.

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