Want to Send Your Parents to Jail? Show Up Late for School a Whole Bunch of Times.

OK. I could have said “frequently” or “on a regular basis” but I chose “a whole bunch of times” because I love the line in Freeway when Vanessa (Reese Witherspoon) asks Bob (Kiefer Sutherland) if he wants to get shot “a whole bunch of times.” I don’t know if that is a coincidence or if it was my subconscious making the connection between the poor results of public education not-so-subtly hinted at in the movie and the stupidity of bringing criminal charges against parents whose kids are late for school.

I have to say from the beginning that I have some mixed feelings about some of what is going on here. When I was late for school, I was the one who got punished even when my mom was to blame and took responsibility by send a note saying as much. I didn’t think that was right and neither did she. But, criminal charges were not involved, for either of us.

The Loudoun County Public Schools, of Virginia, are taking tardiness to a new level. This year, one mother was arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and another couple was issued a court summons on a Class 3 misdemeanor, due to their children being repeatedly late for school.

We’re not talking about being massively late and missing a significant amount of school time, either. In most cases the kids were three minutes late or less, and in some cases they slid in just as the bell rang, but still got cited for tardiness.

I am also curious as to why the couple was issued a summons, when the other mother was dragged off to jail on a Saturday night while, away from watching her own kids and other people’s kids during a sleepover, requiring her to call on other adults to come fill in.

When I read the comments on the various news articles about this subject, I see a lot of people who think the parents should be held responsible. They think this is a very big deal and a huge distraction, taking away from the quality of education that these late kids’ classmates receive.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’ll spell it out for you: I agree that the parents should be held responsible. My problem is turning it into a criminal offense. And what really freaks me out is how flippant some people are about that.

It is a big deal. It is a very big deal to convert this from an infraction of school rules to a legal issue putting parents at risk of losing their liberty, and ultimately their jobs, homes, and families, and putting children at risk of being ripped from their homes and placed in foster care, and otherwise having their lives destroyed.

If it is really that important to the education of their classmates, then expel the late kids after multiple infractions. Make their parents deal with it that way.

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