April 2, 2016

OKWatch Radio: Schools Battle Chronic Absenteeism

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As Oklahoma’s school districts feel the impact of millions of dollars in budget cuts this year and next, many are dealing with the persistent issue of absenteeism.

The problem is so severe, some school districts may not receive all the state money earmarked for them. A number of districts push to have parents fines for truancy.

Oklahoma Watch reporter Brad Gibson explains how school districts are addressing the problem.

On Truancy

A parent’s failure to comply with the state’s Compulsory Education Act is a misdemeanor and the penalty for a first offense is up to five days in the county jail and/or a $25 to $50 fine. Each day a child remains out of school after written or verbal notice is given is considered a separate offense. Fines and jail sentences go up with subsequent offenses. Hundreds of fines are issued annually in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties; jail time is rare.

Here’s a sample of a truancy letter sent to parents by the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office.