Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fining Parents and Students For Cutting Class

On the face of it, this sounds like a good idea. Let's hold parents responsible for their children's conduct!
It could soon cost kids, and parents in Concord upwards of $500 if the teenager continues to cut class.

There’s no question about it, said Mayor Laura Hoffmeister, Concord police have their hands full with truant kids these days.

“Often they’re finding that the kid they return at 11 a.m. is back out at 12:30,” said Hoffmeister.

This prompted school officials to look into a school day curfew ordinance. After a general warning, kids and their parents would be fined $100 after the first offense, $200 after the second, and $500 after the third.
After thinking about it further, I cannot support this idea. Why, you ask? Because in California, we do so much to undercut the authority of parents that we cannot justly hold them responsible in many circumstances.

How can we hold parents responsible for student conduct, for example, when our school counselors are, with very few exceptions, required to respect confidentiality regarding what students tell them? The school has information that a parent should have but refuses to share it. How can we hold parents responsible?

Additionally, in California children can leave campus to go get an abortion, and we're forbidden by law to notify the parents that their child is leaving campus, much less having a medical procedure done.

It's reasonable for parents to assume that when their child gets to school, the school assumes a certain amount of responsibility for the child and the parent simultaneously gives up some authority. If a kid is cutting school, with which adult group--the parents or the school--does the responsibility lie? There's a good argument for saying the school is responsible for ensure the child doesn't leave campus, or at least that the school is monitoring the child.

I understand the reasoning behind this proposed law, I really do. I just don't see it as a practical thing to do, except in some fairly rare cases.

Hat tip: reader MikeAT.


Happy Elf Mom said...

Sorry, I see no reason behind this proposed law except to rake in some money in a down economy. OH! Maybe there is an added bonus of adding power to bureaucrats to meddle in family affairs. I'm sure that gives some people a sick kick. :P

mrelliott said...

I worked at a high school that turned the worst offenders over to the courts. Both parents and students went before the judge to supposedly get fined anywhere from $200-$500. Most of the time the judge did not impose the fine, just threatened to. I really didn't see that it helped any. Students routinely skipped.