One dad by the name of Mark Matrov is irate over a letter that threatened his seventh-grader, Merek, with arrest after he missed less than two hours of Zoom classes.
“It’s ridiculous,” Mark said.
The Mastrovs received a letter back in September after Merek missed three 30-minute class periods.
Like many other middle schoolers across the country, Merek’s seventh grade school schedule at Stanley Middle School requires he spend seven hours a day in front of his computer in Zoom school.
“This is our fourth child going through this middle school and out of the blue, we got a letter,” his dad told ABC 7.
The letter states that under Education Code Section 48264, Merek may be subject to arrest.
Under this ruling, “when a student is absent without a valid excuse, the student is considered truant according to California law,” it reads. And while there are six possible outcomes if a student has these unexplained absences, the Mastrovs are considered over one possible outcome.
“The pupil may be subject to arrest under Education Code Section 48264,” the letter reads.
The code further states how an “attendance supervisor, or his or her designee, a peace officer, a school administrator or his or her designee, or a probation officer may arrest or assume temporary custody, during school hours, of any minor subject to compulsory full-time education or to compulsory continuation education found away from his or her home and who is absent from school without valid excuse within the county, city, or city and county, or school district.”
But as Merek only missed a few classes, his parents did not believe the punishment to be appropriate.
The irate father called school administrators at Stanley.
“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?'” he recalled to the news station.
The new state guideline was passed this summer, CA Senate Bill 98, in an effort to put pressure on schools to put closer tabs on student attendance.
“The letter is part of our responsibility to the state for our student attendance review boards,” Principal Betsy Balmat told the news station. “As always, the schools have a responsibility to ensure students are engaged and learning.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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