I received the email below from a woman who wants to share her story but remain anonymous. This is another reason why SB 45 must pass. SB 45 amends compulsory education law to remove criminal penalties on parents if their children are truant.
If you feel like sharing your own story below please do so in the comments.
To Whom it May Concern,
This is a brief synopsis since I have very little time. During her 5th grade year, my child was ill frequently. I am a parent who is a big believer in keeping my child home when they are sick to avoid spreading the illness to others. I will absolutely own that her absences were more that what I would have wanted them to be, but in my opinion, it couldn’t be helped.
I had heard nothing at all from the school. Keep in mind, I live in a very small town, I dealt with the office staff of the school on a weekly basis because of my employment. I work just a few blocks from the school. They could absolutely have gotten in touch with me if they really thought there was a problem.
My next door neighbor was in charge of the special education department at the school. She informed me that at no time was she ever approached with concerns about my child’s academics. She also informed me that CPS was never to be called unless the school saw an academic issue related to these absences, and even then, parent/staff intervention always came first. But even with “policies” in place, someone at the school did, in fact, involve CPS and a case worker met with my child at the school.
The day AFTER this visit I got the blanket, generic letter in the mail that every parent receives if their child misses more than the allotted five days spelled out under the no child left behind act.
A case worker contacted me by phone and then did a home visit. The most terrifying and agonizing week of my life waiting for that visit. When she came to my house she didn’t even come in further than my entry area. She chatted with the family for a few minutes, asked some very pertinent questions, and concluded that there was nothing she saw that was of concern at all with our family and home. But she said, “Because she missed the days, excused or not, the school had the right to call and she must close the case as supported.”
It was, and is still devastating to me that she could traumatize my family and my CHILD in the name of absences. I fully understand the importance of my child being in school, but to threaten my family and criminalize those absences by labeling me with educational neglect was appalling to me. I immediately removed my child from that dangerous public school environment and she flourished at home with me. She chose to go back to public school the next year, which I agreed to only because she had advanced to the middle school where I had served on the community council for two years. I spoke with the principal about my concerns and I felt good about sending her back. I believe I was singled out because I took a pretty public stand against a proposed school levy. But even if that is not true, the fact that the school had legal rights to disrupt my family over illness was not acceptable.
I fully support parental rights to make the decisions they feel are best for their child without the fear of having their children taken away. Because this is a small town and I don’t wish to be targeted further, I wish to remain anonymous.
Thank you for your time.