About a dozen parents have been sentenced for their children's truancy this year and some have gone for jail for the crime, the Baltimore Sun's Erica Green reports.
Green profiles Barbara Gaskins, who spent 10 days in jail after her 15-year-old son missed the overwhelming majority of school days this year. She says she dropped him off at the bus stop each morning and taught him the importance of education. She was worried about finding childcare for her four young children while serving the time.
"We're dealing with less than 1 percent of students and parents, and certainly this is one of the toughest decisions we have," Jonathan Brice, who oversees the school district's truancy office, told Green. "But it's critical that we get those parents' and young people's attention about the seriousness of being in school." Education experts, however, were less confident that cracking down on parents would lift attendance.
The school system's court liaison Alfred Barbour told the paper that no parents served jail time last year--and that only three did in 2009. Hundreds of them are cited each year for truancy however, and charges are filed after a student misses 15 days. For parents to be convicted, the school has to prove they knew their child wasn't attending school.
Criminalizing parental laziness has had something of a nationwide movement lately. California's new strict anti-truancy bill took effect at the beginning of this year. Parents can serve up to a year in jail if convicted of allowing their children to skip class. Florida and Texas already have similar laws on the books. And one Michigan prosecutor wants an ordinance passed to send parents who miss parent-teacher conferences to jail for three days a pop.