Mark Mastrov says he was shocked when he received a letter from his son’s school in Lafayette, California, warning of potential arrest for missing anymore virtual classes.
Mastrov says he didn’t think they were serious, so he called the school for clarification and they pointed him to state law which says that missing three 30-minute Zoom classes and a student is considered truant.
“out of the blue, we got this letter. It said my son had missed classes, and at the bottom it referenced a state law which said truants can go to jail for missing 90 minutes of class. I called the school and said, ‘Hey, I want to clear this up. I was told that it was the law. I said, “Are you kidding me? Then that’s a bad law.’ ”
School administrator say the school’s attendance policy has not changed amid the coronavirus pandemic even though students now attend classes online from home.
The state education code defines a student as truant if absent from school without a valid excuse three full days in a single school year, if consistently tardy or if absent for more than a 30-minute period during the school day without a valid excuse on three occasions in a single school year.
Mastrovsays he has written to state elected officials, asking for the truancy law to be changed.
"Virtual learning is a deeply frustrating experience for many families, and schools should be maximally patient with students and their parents. Unfortunately, education officials around the country have been making life unnecessarily difficult for students who don't sign in to their classes on time. Some places have even required teachers to perform virtual wellness checks, and to call the cops on parents if their kids seem checked-out during class. One kid got in trouble because his camera caught a glimpse of a toy gun, as though that's comparable to bringing an actual weapon to a physical school.
This pandemic has caused enough problems on its own. Parents don't need to be threatened with jail time for failing to master a hopelessly frustrating—and temporary—new system."