Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Morgan Family

My 6th grader is suffering from excessive absenteeism as defined in the states new truancy law because he has missed more than ten days of school this year. It is astonishing that in our family centered state we would pass a law that defines ordinary kids as "at-risk" in order to provide the state with broad powers to intervene in the family life of that child if they so choose. This law has striped away my natural right to discern when it is good for my child to miss school. This year I could not even excuse my child from school when he has an ordinary stomach flu or head cold. My son suffered more common illnesses this year then he has in a long time. I have don't know why exactly, but he has been under a great deal of stress because of the absence of his father who was serving a tour in Iraq.

When his father came home for a two week visit mid-way through his deployment we decided to keep him home for three day (I wanted to keep him home longer but didn't because of concerns for the repercussions). That’s all it took to push my son to the ten day mark this year. With several more days at home recently when his father returned home from deployment to stay he is dangerously close to being "truant" under the new Nebraska truancy law. I hope with the school year coming to a close that we will have no unpredictable absences.

We have from time to time removed our son from school for reasons other than illness, but because of the value we place on education we have always calculated his absences to have the least educational impact. Our son is responsible for catching up on work missed and we see that he keeps up on his school work when he is away sick. He is an excellent A/B student who is well loved by his teachers. Last semester he was awarded the citizenship award at his school the highest award the teachers give to students at his school. He is a self-motivated, helpful, and trustworthy boy; active in boy scouts and church and we were so proud of our good boy.

Most parents make decisions in the best interest of their kids as we did when we kept our son home to spend time with his father, a father he has seriously missed for over a year of absence from his life. There was one day this school year when I kept my son home because he was emotionally ill, he had suffered a serious panic attack because of the grief he carries around because he misses his dad. Is it the business of the county attorney when I make a decision like this in the best interest of my child? This new law and the expansion of it under LB 463 is a serious affront to my parental authority and my family life.

The Morgan Family
Millard, Nebraska
2010/2011 School Year

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