There was another truancy alert in my homeschool feed today, so I feel the need to write about it today.
The only knowledge I had of a truancy officer growing up was from watching Mrs. Crabtree the teacher and various school truancy officers on The Little Rascals. However, in recent years, I’ve been reading about them in the news, known folks who’ve fought daytime curfew laws and even knew of one incident where a truancy officer contacted a homeschooler in my home town. In the case of the homeschooler in my town, the young man had completed his homeschooling while still of compulsory school attendance age (6-18) and the officer was checking to see why the family had not notified of their intent to home educate him according to Ohio Code.
Dictionary.com defines truant as follows:
1. a student who stays away from school without permission.
2. a person who shirks or neglects his or her duty.
3. absent from school without permission.
4. neglectful of duty or responsibility; idle.
5. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a truant.
-verb (used without object)
6. to be truant.
Home educated students are absent from public school, but with their parents permission and support. If they are out and about town during the public school hours, they are most likely NOT shirking or neglecting their duty, but most likely involved in either real life learning or on their way to a real job.
Still, home educators are often included in truancy discussions due to the fact that they are out and about throughout a day. Therefore, truancy is a situation that many home educators like to keep track of. For example, if you live in a town that has a daytime curfew law during school hours, how do you deal with it? Some have suggested homeschool badges, but I’ve never been too keen on that. It seems restrictive and dangerously like big brother needing to know our every move. I understand that there are some instances of truancy, but I believe there are laws that already address that problem and see no need to make others suffer for a few law breakers.
The headline that caught my attention today was from Utah, Cops, schools join forces to battle truancy problem. I wouldn’t be linking to them at all, but once again home educators were included in the mix. They write:
Youth ages 6 to 18 are required to attend school by state law, but because of home schooling, work-release programs, early college courses, or vocational training opportunities open to students, it’s difficult for officers to verify who should be in class and who has permission not to be.
“We do see a number of kids out, but that’s where the challenge is,” Kirby said. “It’s hard for officers to know [who’s out legitimately], and with all the other calls coming in, they often don’t have time to find out.”
It seems to me, there could be some simple solutions to this problem. For example, certainly teachers know who might be truant? Don’t schools have year book photos of students that the truant officer could use to identify them? This would totally eliminate the presumption that all minors out during school hours are guilty of truancy. It would provide the officers a simple check and balance system to help them enforce the laws that are already in place and leave innocent minors out of the fray.
How can you find the truancy laws in your state and ensure your child’s rights aren’t violoated?
- You can check on recent activities and updates to truancy laws that have occurred in the U.S. at the Education Commission of the States page on Attendance and Truancy.
- You can attend city council meetings and stay abreast of education laws in your town.
- Discuss the situation with your children who might be out during a curfew what to do if they are approached by a truancy officer or a policemen.