Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Texas Education Code – Section 25.093

Please forgive the rant, but when an injustice is done, I have to write about it. The Texas Education Code- Section 25.093 is grossly unfair to parents.

My daughter is a single mother with two children in the Spring Branch School District, a girl that just turned eight and a fifteen-year-old boy. She has been accused of contributing to her children’s nonattendance: Texas Education Code—Section 25.093 and ordered to pay an exorbitant amount in fees.

Texas Education Code—Section 25.093 does not detail the circumstances of whether she kept the child at home for no good reason or if the child was too sick to go to school; i.e., fever, vomiting, stomach pain, headache, etc. According to this Section, the parent is criminally negligent for keeping a sick child at home instead of sending the child to school.

My daughter has a good job, but has to struggle every month to pay her bills. When the children are sick – and they have been sick a lot through the cold winter with the flu prevalent in our city—she had to miss work and stay home with them. Everyone is told not to send sick children to school so they won’t infect others. They must be a lot of sick kids still going to school and spreading the germs. But this law says that if the children miss school, regardless of the reason, the parent has committed an offense punishable by fines.

Once the school children are well enough, they return to school. But according to the Texas Education Code—Section 25.093, they should have gone to school sick. Each day they are sick, the parents have to pay. Not only does the parent miss work, the parent is charged fines for keeping their sick kids at home and taking care of them. I remember the time when the child was made responsible and had to make up the time he or she missed by staying after school or taking extra work home. At least it teaches the child responsibility instead of punishing the parent.

What constitutes an excused absence? Nowhere in the code does it specify what constitutes an excused absence. If the parent forgets to write a note, or doesn’t have health insurance to take the child to the doctor, or if the child loses the note on the way to school, then the parent gets punished and has to pay a fine.

If a child is late for any reason, this constitutes nonattendance and the parent has to pay. There could be many reasons for being tardy to class that a parent has no control over. Does a teacher have to pay if he or she is late to class? What is the parent’s defense? For a single parent, these fines can constitute a paycheck. How does this serve the child or the family? Maybe if the state would accept the government’s stimulus for the school districts, they wouldn’t have to rob the parents.