2011-12-07 - 7:56 p.m.
I just reviewed the letter from Loudoun County public schools which states " I am scheduling an appointment with you and your child...as required by the Code of Virginia, Section 22.1-258"
"At this meeting with the school staff we will discuss you child's excessive absences and develop a plan to address her lack of regular attendance. Failure to attend this meeting may result in immediate court action in the Loudoun County Juvenile court..."
Last year I wrote a letter in response indicating I had no interest in meeting with the school and that furthermore the provision cited was not applicable. I also noted that they failed to include the other joint custodial parent and had there actually been a violation in the realm of the code, that they failed to meet notice requirements. That obviously didn't go over well. I also just HAPPENED to be late the morning of the meeting so came into the office to sign the girls in and saw the truant officer so then did choose to meet with her as I happened to be there and she had gone to the trouble of coming to the school that morning. ( I said "OH I apologize you must not have received my communication, as I didn't intend to meet you. Since you are here however I will meet with you to give you a primer on legal interpretation and why one can't choose to apply a law if the criterion is not met that it is intended to address."
Once again, that meeting didn't exactly go over all that well. I tried to "play nice" to the best of my ability after she insisted the application of the law was sound and listened and said we would do better at being on time. I also was sure to state that as a mother with ADHD and one child diagnosed with ADHD but a couple others with issues that while we would do our best,I am frankly PROUD that we were only late a half dozen times , all less than five minutes and I take that as a terriffic accomplishment.
So tell me counselor, what do you think?
My meeting is tomorrow morning at 7:45 AM.
When this happened two years ago I then also wrote a letter to the whole school list serve ( as the principal had just sent out an e-mail urging all to vote for the school budget I believe which was under fire. At that time there were talking about closing the smaller schools.) Since it was deemed an appropriate use of the school distro to encourage involvement in civic action and politics I responded in kind to that very e-mail and encouraged anyone concerned about how our school is using their limited budget money for Truant Officer to show up at my meeting to find out more. OR if they clearly are opposed to show up to protest the use of such funds for Truant Officers (When a Sheriff can do the job in egregious truancy cases), and cost of Legal counsel for Loudoun County Public Schools and Court expenses being used in our county for our schools to sue parents who get kids to school a few minutes late.
I also asked that if anyone is a lawyer who is moved to represent pro bono, or knows one that they contact me.
In response to that e-mail I received one e-mail from one mother kindly stating she was sorry to hear about the difficulty I was going through.No other responses as no one wants to get involved and I think most at that point literally just believed I was some mom with a screw or two loose.
Now the Code Sec 22 1-258 states:
§ 22.1-258. Appointment of attendance officers; notification when pupil fails to report to school.
Every school board shall have power to appoint one or more attendance officers, who shall be charged with the enforcement of the provisions of this article. Where no attendance officer is appointed by the school board, the division superintendent or his designee shall act as attendance officer.
Whenever any pupil fails to report to school on a regularly scheduled school day and no indication has been received by school personnel that the pupil's parent is aware of and supports the pupil's absence, a reasonable effort to notify by telephone the parent to obtain an explanation for the pupil's absence shall be made by either the school principal or his designee, the attendance officer, other school personnel, or volunteers organized by the school administration for this purpose. Any such volunteers shall not be liable for any civil damages for any acts or omissions resulting from making such reasonable efforts to notify parents and obtain such explanation when such acts or omissions are taken in good faith, unless such acts or omissions were the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct. This subsection shall not be construed to limit, withdraw, or overturn any defense or immunity already existing in statutory or common law or to affect any claim occurring prior to the effective date of this law. School divisions are encouraged to use noninstructional personnel for this notice.
Whenever any pupil fails to report to school for a total of five scheduled school days for the school year and no indication has been received by school personnel that the pupil's parent is aware of and supports the pupil's absence, and a reasonable effort to notify the parent has failed, the school principal or his designee or the attendance officer shall make a reasonable effort to ensure that direct contact is made with the parent, either in person or through telephone conversation, to obtain an explanation for the pupil's absence and to explain to the parent the consequences of continued nonattendance. The school principal or his designee or the attendance officer, the pupil, and the pupil's parent shall jointly develop a plan to resolve the pupil's nonattendance. Such plan shall include documentation of the reasons for the pupil's nonattendance.
If the pupil is absent an additional day after direct contact with the pupil's parent and the attendance officer has received no indication that the pupil's parent is aware of and supports the pupil's absence, either the school principal or his designee or the attendance officer shall schedule a conference within 10 school days with the pupil, his parent, and school personnel, which conference may include other community service providers, to resolve issues related to the pupil's nonattendance. The conference shall be held no later than 15 school days after the sixth absence. Upon the next absence by such pupil without indication to the attendance officer that the pupil's parent is aware of and supports the pupil's absence, the school principal or his designee shall notify the attendance officer or the division superintendent or his designee, as the case may be, who shall enforce the provisions of this article by either or both of the following: (i) filing a complaint with the juvenile and domestic relations court alleging the pupil is a child in need of supervision as defined in § 16.1-228 or (ii) instituting proceedings against the parent pursuant to § 18.2-371 or § 22.1-262. In filing a complaint against the student, the attendance officer shall provide written documentation of the efforts to comply with the provisions of this section. In the event that both parents have been awarded joint physical custody pursuant to § 20-124.2 and the school has received notice of such order, both parents shall be notified at the last known addresses of the parents.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit in any way the authority of any attendance officer or division superintendent to seek immediate compliance with the compulsory school attendance law as set forth in this article.
Attendance officers, other school personnel or volunteers organized by the school administration for this purpose shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability in connection with the notice to parents of a pupil's absence or failure to give such notice as required by this section.
(Code 1950, § 22-275.16; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1980, c. 559; 1985, c. 482; 1990, c. 797; 1991, c. 295; 1996, cc. 891, 916, 964; 1998, c. 620; 1999, c. 526; 2010, c. 597.)
I am really sick of this as I think it is a clear overreaching of authority to absolutely continue to harass me every year over lateness. The law is written with precision. It is very CLEAR that it is to address ABSENCE in the case of PARENTS NOT KNOWING WHERE THE KID IS AND NOT SUPPORTING THE CHILD'S ABSENSE.
I have to say- That is just not the case!
The real shame of this is that I was brought to court in the past and ordered to pay $500 for each child in what was a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
YES A CLASS ONE MISDEMENAOR for this ADHD MOM getting her ADHD child and siblings on school on average 3 minutes late less than a half dozen times.
To me, that is not only an abuse of a law being applied overreaching, but a terrible violation of my personal rights considering this economy.
When I have basic bills bouncing month after month ( like the phone bill today which has an overdraft and the $35 charge. I really don't want to shut off the phone and DSL as I DO need to work from home on occassion), and I am regularly scrambling to creatively find things to pack lunches for the kids ( I bake , make popcorn etc... as if I didn't bake each week there would be nothing to pack), and I rely on home cooked breakfast which takes LONGER in the AM because it costs MORE to have fast prepared food so therefore eggs, Oatmeal or pancakes are our menu- Well then I really resent the fining me. If I HAD an extra $1500 it would be NICE to buy things like snacks or juice boxes. If I had an extra $1500 I could actually go shopping for food rather than rely on the provisions I have. I might then actually have instant waffles or Cheerios and breakfast would be faster and simpler. Or better yet FRESH FRUIT. I mean it is just ludicrous that when we run late as we are cooking or baking and sometimes the kids take a little longer as they WANT to eat those pancakes- that the school is going to again try to pull me through the court system and again threaten me with the crazy find.
Heck I told the girls two years ago OUR GOAL IS TO BE ON TIME. IF WE ARE ON TIME WE CAN GO TO DISNEY. $1500 will pay for that trip. They have been trying to do better with that motivator knowing if we go to court again and I get fined again that that trip is out as I will be paying the court instead of saving for a trip.