Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Call Family: Nothing excessive about it

I have four children attending Millard Public Schools. I am concerned greatly about the implications of Nebraska’s school attendance law and the policies it has inspired. I recently received a letter from the Douglas County Attorney because of this law. All of my children are doing well in school and are actively participating in being good citizens in their classes. They are not behind in anyway.

My third grade daughter’s teacher has told me that she is a wonderful student that enriches the overall feeling in the classroom. My oldest son is being recognized as a Rotary Honor Roll student at the Qwest Center at the end of this month. Our second son was selected to participate in the Blair Honor Band. Our kindergartner is doing the normal things kindergartners do but and is trusted by her teacher to take other students to the office if they need assistance.

Of course, as a responsible parent who tries to teach my children to love school, it concerns me that I am being questioned about the decisions I am making regarding my children’s reasons for being absent. The reason for this year’s absences include the following: Our grandparents and cousins came to Omaha for a long weekend to have a family reunion in September after not seeing each other for a year and a half. I felt it was important for my children to spend time with their family. My older boys did not join us because the demand on them to miss school is heavier.

Another day, I took my daughter to her school field trip instead of going with her class because I was not allowed to bring her baby sister along. At the time, her baby sister was nursing and so I could not leave her with someone. Most parents go on this field trip and I thought it unreasonable that school policy should prevent me from going with my daughter just because I have a nursing baby. Even though, we attended an educational class at Vala’s, arrived there before her class and stayed later, and talked to her teacher during the day she was still marked absent.

In February, our great-grandmother passed away, and her funeral was in Idaho which meant that our children missed two and half days for that. Unfortunately, one of my kids got sick with the stomach flu the night we got home. In addition she had 5 sick days earlier in the year. There have been days, where I know that my kids are not feeling the best, but I have sent them anyway especially because I am concerned about the implications of the new school attendance law and will not risk my family becoming involved with the county attorney.

While I understand that the bill is written to help those who are truant, the net is being caste way too wide. The law defines my children as being “excessively absent”, but I don’t believe there is anything excessive about their attendance records. I believe that for a person to be truly well rounded, there are more experiences to be had than just what is going on in a classroom. Sickness is not something we can control completely. I want to be able to make good responsible decisions about our children without feeling that I am a bad parent for making that choice. I would love to take advantage of opportunities to send my children with their dad to work on “Take your Child to Work” day with about being worried that I will be reported to the District County Attorney.

Please understand that we are one of those Nebraskan families that is working hard for a bright future. I encourage you to amend the law and find a better way to help at risk kids.

The Call Family
Millard School District
Omaha, Nebraska

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