Atlanta Parents Face $1,000 Fines, Jail For Truant Children

ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) — Atlanta’s public school system is prepared to fine and seek jail time for parents of students who play hooky.

The parents of students who ditch class will face fines up to $1,000 and possible jail time if they can’t guarantee their truants make it to school. The rule is a tough measure and a bitter pill for nearly half of Atlanta’s students. During the 2009-10 school year, 44 percent of Atlanta students racked up more than 10 unexcused absences, which is up from the 40-percent clip during the 2008-09 school year, according to district data.

Georgia law states that drivers licenses can be revoked if a student has more than 10 unexcused absences in one year. After five unexcused absences, parents can received a $100 fine and up to 30 days of community service or, in rare cases, jail time. The Atlanta ordinance lowers the number of unexcused absences to one with escalating fines or punishments.

A meeting next week will loosen the law’s language to allow judges more flexibility when responding to chronic offenders.

Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell has recently described the truancy issue in Atlanta schools as a crisis but added his intention wasn’t to overload courts with these cases or financially burden families.

Mitchell’s communications director Mechelle Brown, Mitchell’s communications director, told CBS Atlanta that Mitchell wanted to get parents’ attention. She said that Mitchell hopes to begin a relationship between parents and a school system that offered support and services to parents who wanted to make sure their children attend classes.


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