Saturday, July 20, 2013

ABUSE OF TRUANCY LAW, AND ABUSE OF NEBRASKA FAMILIES, CONTINUES THROUGHOUT THE STATE



Another day, another abuse of Nebraska’s “truancy” law--the law that isn’t about truancy at all.

On June 19, the sheriff showed up at the Maynard home in Sidney, Nebraska.  Lucas Maynard, age 12, was commanded to appear in court on July 18.  The charges against him read as follows:

“Lucas Maynard is a juvenile who:  is habitually truant from home or school and deports himself in a manner so as to injure or seriously endanger the morals or health of himself or others.”

Lucas’ parents, Darla and Dennis Maynard were stunned.  Lucas had been ill several times during the school year, but his mother had communicated with the school every time and had given the school doctor’s notes whenever it had been necessary to take her son in for medical attention.  In addition, Lucas missed two days during inclement weather.  The Maynards live 16 miles from the school, Creek Valley Middle School in Lodgepole, Nebraska, and twice during the winter, the roads were impassable.

According to school district policy, an absence is considered unexcused if it is without parental and administrative permission.  This means all of Lucas’s 22 absences should have been excused (Mrs. Maynard is in the process of verifying that the school documented these absences correctly.)  Lucas kept up on his homework and his grades are good.

One of the documents attached to the summons was a letter from the principal, Katherine Urbanek, to the county attorney.  In the letter, Ms. Urbanek specifically states that she is referring the Maynards to the county attorney because it's the "obligation of state law.”  She then proceeded to explain that Lucas's absences were legitimate, he was conscientious about making up his work after being absent, he had maintained good grades and was passing all classes.  The principal specifically states, "In my professional opinion, Lucas's days of absence have not had a negative effect on his academic success."  Since the principal herself clearly states that Lucas's absences were legitimate, her assertion that she is obligated to report him to the county attorney is incorrect.  The 2012 amendment to the “truancy” law specifically states that schools are not required to turn children in to the county attorney if all absences are excused.

The law also states that “one or more meetings between a school attendance officer, school social worker or the school principal or a member of the school administrative staff, the child's parent or guardian, and the child” must be conducted to attempt to solve the problem of “excessive absenteeism.”  According to Mr. and Mrs. Maynard, Creek Valley Middle School never conducted this required meeting, and they were taken completely by surprise.

On July 18, the Maynards appeared in court where they were dismayed when their 12-year-old child was separated from them and compelled to sit in the front of the courtroom between the prosecutor and the guardian ad litem assigned to his false truancy case.  A bad situation got even worse when the judge read the charges against this innocent little boy and informed him that one of the consequences of his absences from school could be removal from his parents’ custody.

Mrs. Maynard described her son at that moment as “shrinking into his chair, white as a ghost.  He was terrified.”

Since the guardian ad litem did not meet with the Maynards prior to the hearing, the judge continued the false truancy case until August 14.  The Maynards have four weeks to hire an attorney and prepare a defense for their young, frightened child, whose only “crime” was being ill.  He is not a gang member, a drug user or a shoplifter.  He is not a minor in possession of alcohol or a vandal.  He does not "deport himself in a manner so as to injure or seriously endanger the morals or health of himself or others."  He is merely a young child whose mother kept him home from school when he was sick, like good parents do.  Treating him like a criminal is a stunning abuse of power.

I am sick and tired of hearing these stories!  Remember Gov. Heineman’s assurance that Nebraskans would use “good old common sense” when enforcing this law?  That’s not happening.  It’s not happening in Douglas County, it’s not happening in Lancaster County, and it’s not happening way out in Deuel County in the panhandle of our state.  As long as this law is used to abuse, terrorize, and tear apart children and families, the NFF will continue exposing that abuse and fighting to repeal this outrageous government assault on our families once and for all.

22 comments:

  1. AnonymousJuly 20, 2013

    JESUS, PLEASE HELP US FIGHT THIS EVIL...

    ReplyDelete
  2. This makes my blood boil, and scares the heck out of me! Who do these people think they are? Do lawmakers and judges and all those involved in this situation not realize how wrong it is to pass laws which put good, law-abiding families in this situation? This is not what freedom looks like, and good intentions don't make up for one bit of the horror the legal system - enabled by the legislature - is wreaking in the lives of good people.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brenda - Thank you so much for you tireless efforts to protect families and children in our state. Your hard work, persistence and dedication are much appreciated by this mom.

    I am so weary of listening to all the stakeholders point fingers at each other, rather than listening to the true stories of individual children and families abused by this harmful law. When complaints are brought to the attention of those in power, they reassure us that they care deeply for our children and explain that any absences from school are detrimental to our children's well being. There is no acceptable reason to miss school. Not for illness, bad weather, family issues....parents are told to comply with the expectations of all the professionals. Professionals who believe that they know best. In fact, they know better than you!

    How is it that parents are even allowed to leave the hospital with their newborn babies? Shouldn't a Judge, guardian ad litem, social worker, early educational professional, caseworker, family advocate and county attorney be appointed for each family? After all, everyday citizens need all of these "services"....right? This system has been created to enrich all of the assorted stakeholders by allowing them to access an endless pipeline of children they can save. While collecting a generous salary and benefits...all paid for with your TAX dollars. VOTE out every politician who supports this crazy law!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Is there an action we can take to request this case be dismissed?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Under the statutory definition in Nebraska of what constitutes child abuse, the school administrators, county employees (prosecutor and GAL), and the judge in this and similar cases are guilty of inflicting emotional trauma. They should be reported to the Hotline. In addition, this child and his family should sue for slander and defamation for falsely defining Lucas as a criminal verbally on the record and in print.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Under the statutory definition in Nebraska of what constitutes child abuse, the school administrators, county employees (prosecutor and GAL), and the judge in this and similar cases are guilty of inflicting emotional trauma. They should be reported to the Hotline. In addition, this child and his family should sue for slander and defamation for falsely defining Lucas as a criminal verbally on the record and in print.

    ReplyDelete
  7. AnonymousJuly 20, 2013

    We're the government and we're here to help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Governments no good anyways.
      What if this was your kid.
      They would probably get by with.

      Delete
  8. AnonymousJuly 21, 2013

    Wow as the mother of a teen girl, I have had a similar situation in Sidney and potter school districts. If more parents would keep their sick children home less illnesses would be spread. My heart goes out to the parents and child involved in this post. My daughter has faced some of the worst bullying in both districts from both the students and the staff. I have made the decision to send my child to another state to finish out her high school experience. I prey that enough people will stand up for the injustices being done here in Nebraska.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous, if you would like to meet Brenda Vosik and me tomorrow in Sidney to share your own story, meet others who want to fight back against this law in your area, and learn more about how to do that, contact Darla Maynard or email me at: info@FamilyAdvocacyMovement.com.

      We are coming to Sidney tomorrow (Tuesday, July 30) and will be meeting with anyone interested - 3:00 pm at the library in the Virginia Smith Room.

      Bring any documentation you may have whether you have already been or have not yet been to court. Even if your family has not been directly affected, but you are concerned about your friends, family and neighbors, you are welcome to join.

      Spread the word!

      Delete
  9. AnonymousJuly 21, 2013

    They can threaten to take a kid from good parents but kids that need removed from their homes get over looked....AWESOME

    ReplyDelete
  10. AnonymousJuly 21, 2013

    And this is part of why I send my kids to school.in Colorado... and I live a couple blocks from the local school, but after being threatened with referral to the county attorney for truancy, increasing bullying at school, and seeing a quote by the editor of Penthouse magazine on a bulletin board about success, we pulled the plug. It seems like Nebraska schools are taking a real nose dive. They are focusing on the wrong things altogether.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This same thing happened to our son in the Leyton School System in Cheyenne County.
    He was really scared to.This so called law is not a law at all.It is just something to scare young kids of nebraska.

    ReplyDelete
  12. AnonymousJuly 22, 2013

    What about the students who are absent 30+ days for no health-related reasons and nothing happens to them?

    ReplyDelete
  13. A sure sign of a bad law is when the law doesn't solve the problems it was intended to fix while. A terrible law fails to fix the problem and then at the creates even worse ones. Victimizing innocent children and their families is far worse than missing the truant of 30+ days. Our American value of justice is based on the fundamental idea that it is better for one guilty person to go free than for even one innocent person to suffer under the law unjustly. We MUST live this value even more when we are dealing with little children.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anonymous, there was already a law in place to deal with students who were really truant. If the schools weren't following that law or the county attorney wasn't doing his job, that's another issue. Instead of fixing that problem, our legislature passed a sweeping law that has caught up children with serious illnesses such as cancer and meningitis, children attending funerals, and children pursuing elite academic and athletic opportunities. The current law is terrorizing good families into sending their children to school sick.

    Just so you know, this law has nothing to do with truancy as defined by the dictionary and in case law. In fact, the word truancy doesn't appear in the law. It was crossed out and replaced with the word "excessive absenteeism." You may be surprised to hear that any changes in actual truancy are not even being measured. As the Commissioner of Education, Roger Breed, told me, "I was mandated by the legislature to increase attendance, not decrease truancy."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really I feel for these people they did the same for my daughter but the court paper was from 2012-2014 really for 2 years and instead of helping they asked for her to be in the system. building a case againt us and her excused . also just found out the the computer at school has a glitch. what called me to say she was tartdy when I called back ohh we fixed that. bs I say .

      Delete
  15. AnonymousJuly 22, 2013

    Time to get out the laptops and write, write, write! When are people going to realize that this is all about money? It's not about criminality (that's what the police are for) and it's not about education (that's what teachers are for) and it is in no way about guiding our children (that's what parents are for) and it must stop. It's about money, money, money: putting little bottoms in seats. Only with bottoms in seats do schools get their cash, so you tell me, where is a schools' incentive to NOT rat out these children whose parents care enough about them to not send them to those seats sick, to run them over slippery roads, to throw caution to the wind so that a school can garner 15 minutes of attendance time.

    This system is sick. But the County cannot be the bad guy entirely, when the money says otherwise. The school misses out on their cut, and they pass it on. The guardians and attorneys are all clocking time, and the money flows, like ca-ca, straight downhill. How long will we allow our children and their families to simply wash down onto this littered midden of unfortunates? People whose illness or families or lives will not allow them a minty fresh 365-day-a-year attendance, people who got sick, had weather, had bad luck, had life, people who were not the little cash-making machines they were expected to be?

    I left. I filed my homeschool papers and was done. Not everyone has this luxury. Not everyone wants to make this decision to opt out. But for everyone who wants in, who still trusts the state to educate and care for their children, you deserve to do so with dignity, without harassment and persecution. I am disgusted. Again.

    Time to get out those laptops and write, write, write to anyone who has a hand in this horrendous excuse for education.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Well said, Anonymous! You hit the nail on the head! This law is indeed about money. An entire industry has been built around our children, a/k/a "little cash-making machines." Lots of new government jobs have been created to enforce Nebraska's (non)truancy law. Prosecutors, guardians ad litem, school social workers, attendance monitors...they all get a piece of the pie. And that pie is OUR tax dollars. We are paying these people out of our own pockets to abuse us and terrorize us into sending our children to school when they need to be home.

    The more children that are funneled into this system, the more money can be made by the enforcement industry.

    These are OUR children and I am sick of them being used for the profit of others. These are OUR schools and I am sick of them being used as a branch of law enforcement.

    Parents, it is PAST TIME to rise up and say NO MORE! It is past time to remind our public officials that THEY work for us, not vice versa! It is PAST TIME to reclaim our children and our schools as our own!

    ReplyDelete
  17. dgls68135July 26, 2013

    Thank you for this Sonny because I am also in trouble with this stupid truancy law. We did 6 months with region 6 behavioral health because of 40+ missed days due to gi problems that the school was notified at the beginning of the school year. The school choose not to help with gi problem. Instead they choose to serve us with truancy papers and court hearings. She fell so far behind that she could not catch up so I ended up pulling her out of school and started home schooling her. I had to go a lot of hoops just to get my teaching liscense and have the board of edu accept everything. Still home schooling for eighth grade. I love you sis for sticking with me through all of the tough stuff. And mom I love you to for helping me as much as you can.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. dgis68135 - If you haven't already, you can private message Brenda Vosik or me to share more of your story and details of your situation. The more family testimonies we have, the stronger we will be in repealing this law.

      Delete
    2. Brenda VosikAugust 03, 2013

      Dgls68135 - I am very interested in talking to you, not only about your child's "truancy" charges, but about your homeschooling experience. I would very much like to know who told you that you needed a teaching license and were required to consult with your school board in order to homeschool. Please e-mail me at NebraskaFamilyForum@gmail.com. Thank you.

      Delete