Florida county will throw parents of truant kids in jail

Liz Goodwin
The Lookout

A new truancy court in Palm Beach, Florida aims to cut down on the state's absentee rate for young children by punishing parents who don't take their kids to school.

Florida law says parents of children under 16 who let their kids miss 15 days of school within three months can be sent to jail for up to two months as punishment. The Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Palm Beach prosecutors say the two-month jail sentence will be a last resort, after government and nonprofit workers try to fix whatever problem is keeping parents from getting their kids to school.

About a dozen Baltimore parents were sent to prison for their kids' truancy in 2011, the Baltimore Sun reported in April. (In 2010, no Baltimore parents were jailed.) After California adopted a strict anti-truancy bill earlier this year, at least five parents in Orange County were sent to jail for the crime, according to the local CBS affiliate. Judges in Alabama, Texas, and North Carolina and other states have also used truancy laws to send offending parents to jail.

Earlier this year, the NAACP sued a Pennsylvania school district for levying what it claimed were illegal fines of thousands of dollars on truant students and their parents. Lenora Hummel, above, was fined $8,000 after her son and daughter stopped going to school because they said they were bullied and harassed by other students.

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