House Bill 410 passed 90 days ago, and already school superintendents in Belmont County have met to discuss it.
One of those superintendents explained what it really means.
The Bellaire School District has a 6% absentee rate already.
They say, unfortunately, skipping school is almost a tradition.
“Student attendance here in the Bellaire School District is certainly a challenge,” said Superintendent Darren Jenkins. “It has been this way for a considerable amount of time. There are school districts here in Belmont County and in the rest of the valley where attendance is not as much of a challenge, and God bless ’em!”
So when Ohio passed a law saying students can’t be expelled or suspended for missing excessive school days, it didn’t help.
“You know, I gave up a long time ago trying to speculate on why certain things happen in Columbus,” Jenkins noted with a smile.
But the law does not mean you can skip school constantly and still slide through to graduation.
It won’t happen.
Jenkins says there are graduation requirements–tests, points, assessments–you have to meet or you don’t graduate.
“The simple fact of the matter is a student that is habitually truant or tardy is not going to meet those criteria for graduation,” he said.
Jenkins says schools prepare young people for adult life.
And a big part of adult life is getting up and showing up.
“You have to do that and so that’s part of being a responsible adult and setting that habit early, which is getting up and going to school, we believe is essential,” he said.
He said students who are chronically truant or tardy will be turned over to the juvenile court system, which will deal with both the student and their parents.