Friday, October 9, 2009

School absences lead to conviction

Wow. That was the only word I could sum up when I read this Peterborough Examiner article posted today.
She was found guilty Thursday of failing to cause a child under age 16 to attend school. She was placed on one year of probation with conditions that include her son “must attend school each and every day,” starting today, said justice of the peace Carl Young in Ontario Provincial Court.
“Such conduct is not acceptable,” he said.
School board officials must also be made aware of any medical conditions that would cause her son to miss school.
Her son’s attendance problems date back to 2007, the court heard.
He missed 20 days from May 26 to June 30, 2008 and has missed 12 days of this school year, from Sept. 14 to Wednesday.
She said her son would be absent again today because he has “pulled muscles."
Wow (again).
This is so foreign to me, from the prosecution standpoint and the actual situation. I anecdotally hear all sorts of stories about tweens that are absent from school all the time (usually because the parents don't care and the kids just wander instead of showing up), but aren't prosecuted under the Education Act. Attendance counsellors, local PD and social workers are all involved, but in one memorable case from the time I was embedded in a classroom, one of the Grade 8 kids in the same school just rarely bothered to show up, period. No charges there.
It's also foreign because my parents would have never done this. From six to 19 (and beyond while in university) it was my job to go to school and everything else was secondary.
This is so very rare that a copy should go to every board and school in the province.


Anonymous said...

There was a girl in my child's class who rarely if ever attended school. Her family went on several vacations during each school year. It seemed that school just didn't fit their lives. It was difficult for the students to get to know this child and she was a stranger to them when she did come to school.

Here's the rub though. The parents were able to get work for her. Sometimes they'd go on vacation for the whole winter semester.

Teacher said that as long as the student could keep up she kept being promoted right along with the kids who attended each and every day.

This went on from Grades 1 thru 5 at which point the parents took the girl out of school because they got angry when she didn't make school teams or get parts in plays. The reason was because when she did get parts or places on teams she's never be there enough to see her roles through to the end.

They home-schooled after than right through high school.

Education Reporter said...

Which is another option-- though there is a "means" test of sorts for parents who do, why didn't this parent just home-school?

There are viable home-school groups all over the province, who even come together for recreational and educational field trips so the kids can congregate and socialize with people who aren't their siblings. I've led daytime aquatic and rec programs for a home-school group here for about three years and they're a blast. The kids have a great time and not one of them is registered in a local publicly funded school.

Admittedly, I don't think the parent in this case would have been a candidate for home-schooling her child, given what she told the court during the hearing.


Education Reporter said...

Sorry, brain-fart addendum:

These home-school groups also provide and share resources to each other to help with lesson planning, etc.


Anonymous said...

ER - there are some amazing home-schooling cooperatives cropping up all over Ontario these days and they offer exactly what you've described.

It's not the choice of a majority of parents granted, but, I find that if parents are educated as to what their choices may be they go into the education experience with their eyes wide open.