Should parents be prosecuted for tardy kids?
Last week the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that parents cannot be charged criminally for children who are tardy to school, no matter how excessive the infractions. Justice LeRoy F. Millette Jr. wrote that interpreting the law to charge parents with misdemeanors for tardy kids was too broad and could be abused.
The case stemmed from two families in Loudoun County that faced charges, and fines of $1,000 per child, for tardiness. One of the families was later dropped from the charges because the children showed signs of improvement when it came to getting to school on time. Single mother of three Maureen Blake, however, had to take her complaint about the criminal charges to court (and all the way to the Supreme Court in the state) to have it overturned.
Her kids, ranging in age from 8 to 11, were tardy five times each, which prompted the school district to press charges and fine her $1,000 each child. One child suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, making it difficult for the family to arrive on time, according to mom.
This isn’t the first case of tardy or absent kids causing legal problems for their parents and also not the first time that a court has sided with the parents. Educators know that timely attendance is vital to the learning process for all the kids in a classroom, but is it really a crime when parents are not able to make this happen for one reason or another?
What do you think? Should parents be punished criminally when kids miss school, or should schools come up with a better plan?