Lawmakers tighten truancy codes -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lawmakers tighten truancy codes

January 15, 2004

(Atlanta-AP) -- The Georgia House voted to tighten truancy codes today, the latest push to curb absenteeism that educators blame in part for low test scores and the state's high dropout rate.

The House voted 162-to-3 to set a minimum fine of $25  for parents who don't make sure their children are in school. The bill also requires schools to notify parents after two unexcused absences that their children are not in school, and that parents could face fines and even jail time if their children are truant.

All parents would have to sign a form at the beginning of a school year saying that they understand the truancy law.

Educators have long said that Georgia's high truancy rate is a major problem. The absenteeism became even more pressing last summer when the state released a list of failing schools. Many of the schools on the list had adequate test scores but fell into the failing category because fewer than 95 percent of students were present to take the test, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind law.

State Superintendent Kathy Cox told a legislative study committee in August that truancy is a huge problem across this state and would have to be improved for Georgia to meet federal requirements. Governor Perdue has also called for a fresh look at school truancy.

The Republican governor said yesterday that teens ought to be banned from getting a driver's license if they've had too many school absences.

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