Monday, December 13, 2010

Alaska parents may pay big fines for truant kids

Courts in Western Alaska are now fining parents if their children are truant. Kyle Hopkins writes for the Anchorage Daily News that parents can be fined hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars if their kid misses too many days of class, according to court records and rural school district officials in Alaska. The laws regarding truancy are not new, but whether parents get a ticket depends partly on where they live, reports Hopkins. The Anchorage school system has not pursued a truancy violation in the past 10 years. In some rural districts are increasingly turning to the mandatory-attendance laws in hopes of boosting test scores and slashing dropout rates, writes Hopkins.

Sgt. Duane Stone, a supervisor for the trooper post in Kotzebue, said,"[Fines are] not to get people into court. It's to get kids in school." A series of warnings and meetings with parents generally come first, and courts allow the families to reduce or avoid the fees simply by improving attendance. In northwest Alaska, one attendance counselor said she's found that working with the regional nonprofit agency to withhold public assistance payments to families is the single best way to improve attendance. (Read more)

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