walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Snow storms and truancy

I don't actually pay any attention to the truancy laws, and maybe that's a bad decision on my part. R. and I have been arguing about what the schools are likely to do to make up for the snow days. Here is my theory: tack on days until you hit June 30, then have school on Good Friday, and then start having big meetings and arguments about (a) state waiver, (b) school on Saturday, (c) cancel April vacation week.

I don't really care, because for unrelated reasons, I didn't schedule any travel during April vacation week. I have been arguing that it doesn't matter whether the kids show up (or, for that matter, how much of the staff is absent) on Good Friday and/or the last week of June. You just need to meet the statutory 180 day requirement. Turns out there are some interesting problems that may arise.

(1) Family vacation. While I haven't schedule travel this year during April vacation week or during the last days of June, other people have. And family vacation typically counts as unexcused absence. When you get above 5 days in 6 months, you trigger truancy laws, which could mean fines and worse for parents. My theory is that excusing those absences is _very_ discretionary at the school level. But I could be wrong.

(2) Other commitments, such as summer camp and summer jobs. Not just for the kids! A lot of teachers wind up working summer gigs at summer camps (day camp and sleepaway). And some of those camps start in the last week of June. There is actually a fair amount of leeway in Massachusetts truancy law for students to be absent from school for employment (with adequate documentation); it's less clear whether they can be absent from school to go to sleepaway camp.

My attitude on all this has been, make sure I communicate early and often about vacations that are scheduled during the school year and not during school breaks. However, I'm starting to realize that that might not be enough, if the school district and legal system decide to start enforcing truancy laws on top of snow days.
Tags: politics
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