Parents Face a Judge Because of Student Absences, Truancy Court
?Tulsa Public Schools is taking parents to court, when their children have too many unexcused absences. The parents are being charged with violating the Compulsory Education Act, and it means a trip to truancy court.
Today, more than a hundred parents packed the courtroom, accused of not keeping their children in school.
"You can raise your child to do so much but you cannot force them to do what you want them to do. You can only teach them and guide them and hope they follow," said one mother who refused to show her face on camera. She told us that her son ran away from home.
"I took him to school. He was at school when he ran away," she said.
It became an issue for Tulsa Public Schools, and the truancy officer.
"It's critical right now. If children are not in school, how can they learn?" Undernehr, a 45-year teacher and administrator questioned.
While parents complain, that it's not their fault, that they tried, today 175-families were scheduled to face a misdemeanor charge and more than 3-hundred dollars in penalties.
"The judge will say if you need to sit in class with your kid to make him have to be there, then maybe that is what you have to do," explained Undernehr.
Last year more than 6-thousand Tulsa Public School students missed 17-days or more. The district attorney's office says they do prosecute parents, but the goal is not to fine them, or put them in jail.
"But when you have kids that are not getting things, that are going to benefit them for their future, and we have parents that are not taking the responsibility they have, towards their children, somebody has to step in," said Assistant D.A.Steven Kunzweiler.
The court steps in after children have missed several days, with no excuse, after the schools have mailed letters with no improvements.
The mom we interviewed, is relieved that her case was dismissed. Most of the other parents will have five months, to make payments on their fine and to be sure students are in school. Upon review, they could have their charges expunged from their records. ?