Truancy Fees

by  , Youth Reporter

Chicago City Council has proposed to enforce new truancy regulations for Chicago school students.

One key problem in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the large percentage of students ditching school.

The city council states that these new regulations could result in fees ranging from $50-$75 or possible jail time for a parent due to their child’s truancy.

In a first and second offense, parents would be fined but with a third offense, parents could receive jail time.

As a Chicago Public School student, I don’t support any sort of controlling influence over students from outside officials. Meaning, I do not endorse most decisions made by minor groups of legislators for major groups of students.

I could understand if parents and teachers pulled together in efforts to decrease student ditching. But this decision was made by a group of people who possibly don’t even have children or if they do, they may be in another school district or in college.
Would you trust a decision for your child being made by someone who doesn’t even have children?

Especially CPS students who often come from low income homes where there are sometimes three or more children in one household.

Concerned parent, Laresha Hopkins, a local mother of three, says she has two sons in high school and they often ditch without her knowing.

Hopkins works a 14 hour shift and makes a considerably low salary. Her two sons, although old enough, do not work.

She also says that in all the years she went to school, there were constant reinforcements against truancy and tardiness policies that ensured students wouldn’t dare ditch. Hopkins does concede that student ditching has in fact increased but she feels there are other resorts to minimize it.

Hopkins says, “I don’t support a choice like that, which could affect families or even households with one child; the percentage of single parents is increasing daily. Single parents who have jobs and responsibilities that I’m sure do not include the payment of a $75 truancy fee.”
The current status of the law is pending; the council hasn’t made it effective. A vote may take place soon to determine whether or not the truancy policy will be permanent.

Aren’t there enough rules regarding ditching for students in their own schools?

In my school there is an absence penalty for truancy. If you ditch one class you will be marked absent for half of that day. In addition, your parent or guardian is also contacted to inform them of their student’s ditching.

For certain classes in my school, depending on the teacher, there are also additional rules that apply to those who purposely miss a class.

Some teachers penalize the students by not allowing them to complete make-up work or they’ll assign them work that was based on the material reviewed the day they ditched. I believe that is penalty enough for a student, not to mention the parents.

Students’ actions and achievements reflect on their parents.
Although, student ditching is increasing, there are other methods that could be considered. Initiating new fees and a legal penalty resulting in jail time is just not the solution.

Taking in the fact that some parents are not involved in their child’s education and attendance in school, new policies should be enforced, just on other conditions. Many former students of high schools in the urban areas of Chicago are not pleased with this possible enforcement and plan on doing what they can.

Crane High School alumnus and teacher for the Chicago Board of Education, Sidney Garth, attended high school in Chicago when tardiness and ditching weren’t as common as they are today.

Garth said, “In most schools around my neighborhood, there are tardiness, truancy and ditching regulations that have been instilled in students from the beginning. They were not required to adapt to a new change, for it was already standard protocol!”

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