Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Buss Family: A Grandmother's Story

As a mother and grandmother I hope that my perspective will be respected by state lawmakers. I have read stories in the news and comments from state officials who emphasize that 20 days is a lot of missed school. They seem to be saying that no student should ever miss 20 days of school for any reason, and that if students miss that much school they must be “at-risk” and in need of state interventions.

First, I want to point out the obvious. A student who misses 20 days of school in one year is present in class 90% of the time. This is an ‘A’ in attendance. Good students have a wide range of attendance. For some children they will never be absent 20 days in one year. The Governor has publically stated that he never missed school as a kid, that a lot of absences for him would be no more than a couple. It is understandable that someone with the Governor’s attendance record may find it hard to be compassionate for kids who are absent more often, but it is not hard for even good students to have 10+ absences on a regular basis.

At the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year, our grandson who was in first grade, was suffering from sinus headaches at least once a week to the point where he was forced to miss school because the infections made him ill. Our daughter took him to the doctor several times and was given antibiotics which would work for a short period of time and then the infection was back; in fact, it never really cleared up.

He missed approximately 5-10 days of school within the first two months of school. The doctors finally decided that surgery was required in order to clear up the infection. After the surgery, he had to be out of school for a week. So now we are looking at 10-15 days missing from school.

It is not at all unlikely that my innocent grandson will meet the twenty day threshold under the law and fall under the jurisdiction of the county attorney and fall into the supervision of state authorities. This is unacceptable! Neither the state nor the schools should have any authority to decide what is best for a sick child. That is a parent’s responsibility. The state of Nebraska is overstepping their boundaries with this law.

My grandson story is a perfect illustration of how a perfectly innocent child void of any wrong doing can easily reach the 20 day threshold. Though it was not the intent of the legislature to entangle sick kids with law enforcement, it is none the less what has occurred as county attorneys are required by law to review these cases and provide “oversight”. This makes the average law-abiding Nebraskan very nervous and rightly so.

Jean Buss
Lincoln Public Schools
Lincoln NE

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