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      James T. Reilly

Jennifer Bunker Skerston

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Parents could face jail time if their kids miss too much school

By Reilly Law Office, Nov 19 2018 05:55PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WRSP) — Under Illinois law, kids between the ages of six and 17 are required to attend school and when it comes to absences, they can't miss more than nine days a year.

“It's hard to learn when you're not in school,” Addams Elementary School Principal Mike Grossen said.

A District 186 elementary school has a new way to encourage parents to get their kids to school.

“Actually, I got this idea at Sandburg Elementary School,” Grossen said.

The school put up a board to track absences, tardiness and early dismissals from the day before. The sign, which is located on the office door, is visible to parents that come inside.

Principal Mike Grossen put it up a few weeks ago.

Thursday, the board showed 92.9 percent of the students were present, five students were late to school and five students left early.

“Our goal [is] to get zeros across the board for at least a few days," Grossen said.

If that sign isn't enough, students with several unexcused absences get letters sent to their parents.

Addams Elementary School also has a sign outside where students are dropped off that alerts parents to come inside to sign their kids in because they’re tardy.

If your kid has more than nine unexcused absences, you could end up facing a Class C misdemeanor, which could land you with a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

Some think the punishment acts as a good deterrent.

"It might scare them enough where they won't want to do that,” parent and Carlinville teacher Tonya Koller said.

While others think it may be too harsh.

"If the parent is in jail, who will the child? Where will the child go? Who will take care of the child," parent Melissa Mitchell said.

While Grossen understands that life happens and there are times students may need to miss school, he said it shouldn’t become a habit.

"We only have them for so much time, and that time is precious,” Grossen said.

Something many parents agree with.

"I believe school's very important,” Mitchell said. “I believe children should be in school every day they’re able to be.”

Koller said as a teacher, she’s seen firsthand how kids can struggle after missing stretches of school.

"It puts them behind and then they're lost,” Koller said.

This law only applies to unexcused absences.

Students can miss more than nine days of school if those absences are excused.

From: https://foxillinois.com

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