A parent in Northern California received a letter from his son's middle school, threatening the 12-year-old's arrest for missing 90 minutes of his Zoom class. The Stanley Middle School principal said that her administration had no choice but to send the letter, given new state guidelines around virtual learning. The family received the letter after their seventh-grader missed exactly three 30-minute Zoom sessions, one day last month.
According to the parent,
"He can become a truant of the state and he could be arrested. I immediately called an administrator at Stanley Middle School and I said, 'Are you going to come and try to arrest my son at my home, or fine me for not getting him to his Zoom class perfectly, on time everyday?'"
The letter lists that the child missed three periods and says "when a student is absent without a valid excuse, the student is considered truant according to California law. The pupil may be subject to arrest under Education Code Section 48264." The letter is a result of the new state guidelines passed this past summer, CA Senate Bill 98, which requires districts to keep a closer eye on student attendance.
According to Principal Betsy Balmat, "The letter is part of our responsibility to the state for our student attendance review boards. As always, the schools have a responsibility to ensure students are engaged and learning." The family should've received a phone call first, giving them a chance to clear their son's absences. However, they never received the phone call and other parents have received similar letters. The family is now writing to lawmakers, urging a change in state law.
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