What Does the New Truancy Ordinance Mean?

By Eileen Jones - bio | email

The Montgomery City Council passed a new truancy ordinance and the Mayor is expected to sign it, but the school system says the new truancy ordinance is not new at all.

For years, it's been against the law for any child between the ages of seven and sixteen to play hooky from school but now the City Council is giving that law some teeth.  School system spokesperson Tom Salter says it begins with step number one. "After the first unexcused absence then the parent will receive a letter from us saying your child was not in school and you need to give us an excuse if there is one."

And, it's not only those between the ages of seven and sixteen who must be in school and accounted for, but even older youngsters who have enrolled must also be in school. If not, step number two comes into play.

"Then our district resource officers will require that the parent have a meeting, a conversation with them to talk about the consequences," says Salter.

That meeting will be required; however, if there is still a problem with unexcused absences then Salter says step number three will be enforced. "The parents will be referred to what's called an early warning program where they actually go down and talk to an Assistant District Attorney in the D.A.'s office at the county courthouse."

And, by the time a youngster gets to the fourth or fifth unexcused absence, the parents will be more involved than they want to be. According to Salter, "At that point, on the fourth or fifth absence, they could be referred to the juvenile court. The parents or the child? Both."

So, what happens with home schoolers who may take a break to go and get some ice cream? Salter says the youngsters may still be picked up but a call to their parents should clarify the situation.

And, if parents get to that fourth or fifth step it could mean up to seven days in jail and/or a $100.00 fine.