Latest News and Comment from Education

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Students accused of truancy when they didn’t turn in their work

Students accused of truancy when they didn’t turn in their work
They didn’t turn in their work for remote school. Their parents were threatened with courts and fines
After their kids experienced tech glitches or turned off cameras during online learning, these families were accused of truancy and received legal threats

Hayden, 12, had been having panic attacks about school even before a letter arrived at his home last month, threatening legal action for his alleged absences from distance learning. 

The sixth grader has been attending online class from his home outside Austin, Texas, since August, and having difficulties adjusting. When his grades dropped, he started having intense bouts of anxiety, working himself up until he cried so hard he could barely catch his breath. He wailed that he hated himself and wished he could do better in school.

When the letter arrived from Round Rock School District in November, saying that legal charges punishable by fines or court action could be brought against his mother for his absences, Hayden spiraled into a dayslong episode, says his mother Holly Barentine. He started crying even before they finished reading the letter, disclosing fears about worst-case scenarios that he would fail his classes. When he went to stay the night at his dad’s house, the crying continued. His father emailed Barentine, expressing concern for their son’s well-being.

Hayden, a sixth-grader, hadn’t actually been missing online school. However, his school district only counts kids present in some classes if they both show up and submit their homework for the day. Some of Hayden’s homework hadn’t been reaching his teachers due to apparent technological glitches on the school’s online platform, or in some cases because he hadn’t handed it in ― an oversight he didn’t expect to be met with potential legal action. 

Around the country, school districts are subject to state truancy laws and regulations. However, as the coronavirus pandemic has turned schools upside down and put most learning online, some of these rules are CONTINUE READING: Students accused of truancy when they didn’t turn in their work