WWYD? 5 yo is "truant" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 12:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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(x-post to Learning at School)

For various reasons that aren't relevant to this thread, my DH and I are allowing our 5 yo DD to complete kindergarten at the PS and then will homeschool her and younger DD next year.

DD is doing extremely well academically. She is not struggling with her schoolwork nor is she behind in any way. In fact, in some areas she's painfully ahead (she's been able to fill in the "Counting to 100" grid with ease since December, but her teacher still makes her do it every.stinking.day).

Last September, we went on a family vacation that resulted in DD missing 2 days of school while we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Awesome, fun, educational trip. (FWIW, DH has NO say as to when his vacation is. He's assigned his days from the powers that be.)

Last Wednesday, we took her to the Exploratorium in SF (free admission day ). The kids had a wonderful time, learned a lot. I'm so glad we took them.

However, as a result of our 2 excursions and me being honest with the school about where we were instead of lying and saying DD was sick, my DD has officially been labeled a "truant" by the school. 3 unexcused absences or tardies = truancy.

We received a patronizing form letter from the school and have been instructed to arrange a meeting with the principal to discuss this issue face bad consequences ("Failure to discuss this problem and/or continued absences may result in a referral to the Attendance Review Board, the District Attorney, the Probation Department and/or the Human Services Agency [CPS] for action.")

BUT... they quoted California Education Code Section 48260. I found this:

"EC Section 48260 (a): Any pupil subject to compulsory full-time education or compulsory continuation education who is absent from school without a valid excuse three full days or tardy or absent more than any 30-minute period during the school day without a valid excuse on three occasions in one school year, or any combination thereof, is a truant and shall be reported to the attendance supervisor or the superintendent of the school district."

DD is only 5. Attendance isn't compulsory until she's 6 (next Sept.). So, I don't see how this law applies to her. Is there something I'm missing? DH and I are going to argue our case to the principal as soon as we can set up a meeting, because remember, there will be dire consequences if we don't go.

Hey, I just realized something. I'm 37 years old and a college graduate and I just got a "referral" to the principal's office.

I swear, I'm so over them thinking that they know better than I do what's appropriate for my DD.
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#2 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 12:32 AM
 
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I would simply write a nice note back, sending it to the principal and ccing the teacher, as well as the attendance supervisor AND the superintendent and firmly but pleasantly remind them of that fact.

I've found dealing w/the schools in their own language works wonders

Good luck, let us know how it goes!!!!

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#3 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 12:36 AM
 
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Hmmm. It could be if she is enrolled in the school she is considered the same as compulsory age. Here the compulsory age is 8 but if you are signed up for school, all the rules apply. Even if you withdraw your child from 1st grade, you have to register as a homeschooler and do all the paperwork when you wouldn't have had to until age 8 if she had never gone to school at all.

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#4 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 12:44 AM
 
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Three days! Wow, we have 10 here. I had heard CA was pretty strict.

Yes, I think if you are enrolled in school, then the attendance laws apply; she just doesn't have to be enrolled if she's not compulsory age. It's a funding issue--they lose $ if the student isn't there.

My question would be, and then what happens? Do they fine you or just look at you very sternly?

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#5 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 12:49 AM
 
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Checked the xposted thread but no replies, yet. All the homeschoolers are up and all the schoolers are in bed.

I dunno why that struck me as funny... maybe I should go to bed, too.

Mom to unschooling 4everboy since 8/01
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#6 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 12:59 AM
 
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You might run this by Ask an Expert: Judy Goddess - Using California School Law To Advocate For Your Kids:
"If you're wondering, "Hey, can they do that to my kid?" ask Judy for help. If you have a question for Judy, just click here to e-mail her now. Your question may appear on-line in this column unless you request that we not publish it." I'd print out those points you've come up with and have them there at the meeting with the principal - and do remember that you can begin homeschooling immediately if you want. Although, it might just be an automatic procedure a school is required to follow if a family has kept a child home who isn't ill - it may turn out to be a nothing sort of conversation with the principal. By the way, when my child was in kindergarten at one private school and then 1st grade at another, teachers were adamant that our vacations were a lot more educational than anything he'd miss in school!

- Lillian

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#7 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 01:08 AM
 
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It effects her because she is enrolled.

Also until the end of the year, tow the line with her being there.

Make it sound like that 2 day trip was "ok'ed" by the teacher.....like maybe there was some miscommunication. They were educational.
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#8 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 01:36 AM
 
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Wow, that would rub me the wrong way. Like the only valid reasons to be out of school are those that only they deem valid?

I would ask them to at least clarify the compulsory age thing. They might back off when they realize that either a) they are wrong and/or b) you are checking in to your rights according to the ed code.

Regardless, there is a way that they could handle this without it feeling like a punitive, authoritarian call to the principal's office. How inappropriate to make parents feel like this, and this only serves to deepen the divide between home and school. If this is the way that they handle things of this nature, I shudder to think about the ways that they might be dealing with more controversial issues, and this could definitely be one to be added to the list of yet another reason to homeschool. I mean, having to repeatedly fill in the Counting to 100 grid even though your DD has more than mastered it is reason enough!!

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#9 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 01:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by 4evermom View Post
Hmmm. It could be if she is enrolled in the school she is considered the same as compulsory age. Here the compulsory age is 8 but if you are signed up for school, all the rules apply. Even if you withdraw your child from 1st grade, you have to register as a homeschooler and do all the paperwork when you wouldn't have had to until age 8 if she had never gone to school at all.
Huh I wonder if that rule applies here as well because if it does it changes everything on when I send ds to school. I need to call the board of education and find out for sure. It makes no sense but most things dont to me any more.

 
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#10 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 01:47 AM
 
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Family activity sounds like a "valid excuse" to me.

Surviving sleep deprivation one day at a time with dd (Oct '11) & ds (Oct '08).

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#11 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 01:52 AM
 
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It's all about the money. The school looses money for each day your DD is absent. With budget cuts, the school I worked at cracked down on absences not related to illness. If you miss too many, the school can make you go to some sort of truancy court and parenting classes. It sucks.
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#12 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 02:10 AM
 
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Family activity sounds like a "valid excuse" to me.
It's not here. Here it is CLEARLY spelled out that family trips are NOT excused absences...

-Angela
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#13 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 06:13 AM
 
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Hire a pit-bull of a lawyer?

It seems odd that they would stick that label on her knowing that school isn't compulsory until she's 6. Do they know you're planning to take her out of school? Could someone there have an agenda?
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#14 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 06:28 AM
 
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I have been through something very similar with the school when my kids were in. I personally think the idea of a 5 year old truant is rediculas. However, if you are going to keep her in school for the rest of the year, I'd go ahead and stick with the expectations of the administration.

If you however don't want to do that, then take her out now, and file your paperwork for a homeschool umbrella or whatever is legal in CA. They will send the letter withdrawing her from school, so you don't need to face the nasty office workers! LOL

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#15 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 08:44 AM
 
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I just received a call from a social worker yesterday because of the same situation as the OP. My K has been sick a lot this year, but I have also let him miss a few days for educational field trips with us. I am hs his brother and don't mind having him home too, but I would like him to finish the year as we are so close to the end. I really did not like the call and it made me feel very nervous about saying the 'wrong' thing. I know school is not compulsory until age 7 here, but he is enrolled in the school. Can they 'do' anything to us?
We are in GA.

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#16 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 09:10 AM
 
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Honestly, the letter is probably a formal letter that the school has to send to anyone that is meeting the truency requirements. I think the meeting is another requirement the school needs to follow when the letters are sent out. Each state is so different though. I cannot believe that 3 absents or tardies are considered truent, wow it is 10 in a semester here and it starts over second semester. Does the school have any "vacation forms" to fill out for when a student misses school due to a vacation. Some will have you fill these out prior to a planned vacation and the teacher and principal can sign it that it is "approved". If they have such a form, that should have been offered to you to avoid this very situation.

What is the purpse of the teacher asking your child fill in the 100 grid everyday if she knows it so well? Please tell me your child is not writing all 100 numbers everyday?! I guess I would ask what the teacher can do to challenge your child in areas that she is ahead. There are so many easy ways to challenge a child in kindergarten that there is no excuse for her to be doing things like that when it is so easy.

I wish you the best.
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#17 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 09:19 AM
 
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Family activity sounds like a "valid excuse" to me.
Not to the schools, it isn't.

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#18 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 09:42 AM
 
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Hmmm. It could be if she is enrolled in the school she is considered the same as compulsory age.
this is true in my state.

OP, i'm sorry you are going through this.it's just plain stupid. hugs to you.

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#19 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 10:34 AM
 
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With so much costly red tape, I'm surprised there's not a budget crisis or something.


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#20 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 10:55 AM
 
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You could go to the meeting - in all probability if you promise to be a good little girl it will all go away

I would clarify the age thing with the Department of Ed. You want to know if she is excused from this nonsense due to her age or not. You need this info so you can decide on further trips, lol.

Regardless of the age issue - you do not have to attend a meeting:

http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ai/tr/

From what I read you have a right to attend a meeting after the first truancy report - you do not have to.

I would call them or write them and let them know you received the letter. Let them know tht you understand your rights and resposibilities with regards to truancy - and that you do not feel a meeting is necessary at this time.

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#21 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 11:07 AM
 
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Whenever I've called the school telling them of an absence, I've never given them a reason. I just called early in the morning and left voicemail messages:

"Good morning, my name is so and so and I'm calling to inform you that my dd, in so and so's class will be absent today March 13."

No one has ever called back asking exactly why she wasn't there. It probably allows them to put whatever they want in the reason, protecting their funding.
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#22 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 11:07 AM
 
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Hmmm. It could be if she is enrolled in the school she is considered the same as compulsory age. Here the compulsory age is 8 but if you are signed up for school, all the rules apply. Even if you withdraw your child from 1st grade, you have to register as a homeschooler and do all the paperwork when you wouldn't have had to until age 8 if she had never gone to school at all.

Yes, it's the same in GA. Compulsory attendance age is 7, but if you enroll your 5 y/o in K and then pull them out mid-year to homeschool, you must file all the appropriate paperwork even though they are not yet 7. Once they have been enrolled, compulsory attendance laws apply.

That said, 3 unexcused absences qualifying her for truancy for K seems really excessive. It should be at least 5, if not 10 days allowed. FWIW, they have to send out those letters. But if you call and talk to the principle or school social worker and explain that your dd is doing well in school and they were vacation related, it should not be a problem at all. It's the parents who ignore all attempts at communication by the school and continue to allow their children to miss days of school past the truancy letter that end up in trouble. I used to work as a school social worker and I had to report parents to CPS, but it was NEVER the first thing we did and if the parents were nice and called us back or wrote back, and the children were doing well in school, we always let it go.

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#23 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for all the replies. Here's one tiny problem... we have a couple more "unexcused" absences planned: 1 to attend the orientation at the charter we're HSing her through next year... and there's a Celtic fair coming up. Not to mention that it would be nice to hit the Aquarium again before school lets out and it gets all crazy and busy. OK, granted the fair and aquarium can wait. ::sigh:: I feel like a little kid counting down the days until school lets out.

I know it's literally their playground and their rules. It's just hard. Honestly, it galls me to have to ask permission from a stranger to make parenting decisions. Feh.

BTW, yes she's still writing her stupid numbers. A week or two ago, she was complaining LOUD about that and begging me to e-mail her teacher and ask for something more challenging to do. I encouraged her to speak up and ask for something else to do. I just asked her about it again and she seemed subdued and said that she wants to write them and that I shouldn't email Miss R. Hmmm... not sure what's up with that. She said that she didn't want to ask Miss R. for more challenging work because "She'll get mad and I just need to do my work."

Sorry for the rant. We're keeping her in because we think it will make for an easier transition. The more I think about this, the more I wonder if that's the case. But, she does seem to like going most of the time. So, maybe I'm making too big a deal out of this. Just 90-something days left.....
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#24 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 01:00 PM
 
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Given the new info.....

confirm whether she is exempt due to age.

If she is - yeah: - keep on as planned.

If she isn't, you have a decision to make. You either need to:
A: play by their rules
B: risk the consequences if you keep having "unexcused" abscenses
C: pull her out of school.

I would pull her (in general (maybe your DD is different) I think a K would transition fairly quickly to being HSed) The option of playing by their rules is also fine. I would avoid option "B".

Kathy
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#25 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 01:25 PM
 
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Can't you just call her out "sick" those days that you have fun things planned? (I'm not being snarky, and I know its not the best example, but you can always call from a bedroom so she can't hear, yanno?) .. I can't believe that they are giving you a hard time about this... ESP if she's on track and even ahead!
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#26 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 01:25 PM
 
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ITA w Kathymuggle

I did some digging and the same is true in our area. Enrollment pre-compulsory means your kiddo becomes compulsory.

I'd say either agree she goes the rest of the year...period...or pull her out asap, legally. Any particular reason NOT to pull her out? It's driving you nuts, and she isn't getting her needs met...leaving her in does...what exactly for your family?

I think rolling the dice with their asinine consequences, considering you are about to homeschool, is a bit riskier than I'd be ok with personally.

Keep us posted mama!

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#27 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 01:27 PM
 
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Can't you just call her out "sick" those days that you have fun things planned? (I'm not being snarky, and I know its not the best example, but you can always call from a bedroom so she can't hear, yanno?) .. I can't believe that they are giving you a hard time about this... ESP if she's on track and even ahead!
I think the problem here is if/when she tells her teacher all the fun things they did while sick. And telling a kindergartener NOT to tell something is A) wrong, and B) like saying don't think about a pink elephant!

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#28 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 01:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think the problem here is if/when she tells her teacher all the fun things they did while sick. And telling a kindergartener NOT to tell something is A) wrong, and B) like saying don't think about a pink elephant!
:

Plus I just really, really hate to lie. It feels bad and I don't like doing it. However, maybe we could get away with "K is taking a sick day today." That's not technically lying. We're not saying she's sick, we're saying we're using one of her allotted sick days. They get their money. We get our fun day. That might work...
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#29 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 03:42 PM
 
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BTW, yes she's still writing her stupid numbers. A week or two ago, she was complaining LOUD about that and begging me to e-mail her teacher and ask for something more challenging to do. I encouraged her to speak up and ask for something else to do. I just asked her about it again and she seemed subdued and said that she wants to write them and that I shouldn't email Miss R. Hmmm... not sure what's up with that. She said that she didn't want to ask Miss R. for more challenging work because "She'll get mad and I just need to do my work."
I know I'm just now chiming in, but it sounds to me as if your dd did speak up and ask for something more challenging, and that Miss R has already gotten mad and told her to just do her work. If you are going to keep her in for the remainder of the school year, I would either send the teacher an email, anyway, or stop in at pickup time and have a brief discussion with her.
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#30 of 51 Old 03-13-2009, 04:09 PM
 
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It's not here. Here it is CLEARLY spelled out that family trips are NOT excused absences...

-Angela
Ewwww. If my school district growing up had been like that, I probably would've been homeschooled with my little brother. My 5th grade teacher even asked my mom if things were okay with us because I was in class every day for a month once.
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