Monday, February 08, 2010


Saturday's mail brought a mortifying delivery - a letter from the school district informing us that we are in danger of having a truancy complaint filed against us because Lily had three unexcused absences. I opened the notice and stood there stunned. I had to re-read it several times before I could even process what it said. And then I died of embarrassment right there in the living room.

It's all my fault that we got this letter, and I know it. I'm the one who forgot to send notes in to school after Lily's absences. I'd remember that I needed to do it, but somewhere between remembering and actually writing the notes, I'd get distracted and nothing would happen.

Once I got over my embarrassment (which comes back every time B teases me about my truant child), I started railing against the system that threatens the parents of elementary school students with truancy complaints.

Lily gets dropped at the school door every morning by me or one of the other parents in our carpool group, so it's not like I'm sending her out the door and she's deciding to cut. We take education seriously in our house, so if I let either of the girls stay home, it's because of illness, not because I'm letting them play hooky. I really am a responsible parent, except when it comes to writing excuse notes.

So this morning I went in to school and talked to the attendance lady about the letter, and she let me write excuse notes for the three absences in question. She said she's not sure if there is a time limit on excuses, but that she would enter the notes in the system and see what happened.

Once I finished pleading my case and telling the attendance lady what a good mom I am, I had to inform her that Ella and Lily will be missing two days of school for their upcoming trip to Washington, DC.

Which blew my arguments for being a good mom who makes her kids go to school right out of the water.


Becca said...

OK this is just one more example of across the board, no exceptions, no tolerance policies gone awry. If the school didn't have a "system' they needed to adhere top, they would see your child's name come up in the unexplained absence list and call you or someone who knows you and your child could override it and say we know that is not a family or kid problem, they just forgot to send notes. but NO! the OFFICIAL LETTER Goes out, just like it would for a kid who is neglected or a parent who doesn't care if their kid attends, or a teenager who is cutting. grrr (OK, rant over)

Ann in NJ said...

I agree with Becca, although our school system (at least the elementary schools)is actually pretty good about calling. I've been tripped up a few times because, while we can call in kids absent and don't have to send a note at the elementary level, we do have to send a note EVERY time at middle school and above. Even if you've called the kid in absent. Fortunately, my son has reminded him because the home room teacher mentioned it. So no truancy notices for us. Yet. So I try to write the note the day they're sick if I can.

Baino said...

Wow they're very strict. I mean our kids are expected to have notes for absences but it's sorted with a phone call if it doesn't happen. None of this 'computer says 'no' business. In fact you have to be a serial absconder to receive truancy notices! A little harsh I think. I once took Clare out of school for 3 weeks in year six for an overseas trip. Her teachers were thrilled that she would be getting such exposure to other countries and just asked her to keep a journal as 'homework'.

B in Austin said...

You're a bad mom. Truant, truant, truant, truant! Heather absolutely hates being late herself and if she didn't have us all around keeping her back, she would arrive at least 1/2 early for coffee with a friend and 4 hours early for a plane. I thought the letters were really, really funny. Love you honey :)

joanna said...

We got one of those letters last year, but we actually deserved it because he was indeed late for all but 1. I think I pasted it in his baby book. :) 2nd semester of kinder and he's a truant!

Suna said...

I once scheduled a ten-day trip to Ireland for the family, to see the kids' grandparents. Only I thought spring break was a week earlier than it really was. So, that was a WEEK of missing first grade with no good excuse. The teacher laughed and said a trip to Europe is usually pretty educational. And they did promote the boy anyway. Still embarrassed and that was a long time ago.

I forget to send notes, too. Thank goodness I have just ONE more year after this year to deal with that stuff.

ckh said...

Make your own rules!