July 20, 2019

How the War on Truancy Affects Parents

“On the morning of April 18, 2013, in the Los Angeles suburb of Buena Park, a throng of photographers positioned themselves on a street curb and watched as two police officers entered a squat townhouse. Minutes later, their cameras began clicking. The officers had re-emerged with a weary-looking woman in pajamas and handcuffs, and the photographers were jostling to capture her every step.

“You would swear I had killed somebody,” the woman, Cheree Peoples, said in a recent interview.

In fact, Peoples had been arrested for her daughter’s spotty school attendance record under a truancy law that then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris had personally championed in the state legislature. The law, enacted in January 2011, made it a criminal misdemeanor for parents to allow kids in kindergarten through eighth grade to miss more than 10 percent of school days without a valid excuse. Peoples’ 11-year-old daughter, Shayla, had missed 20 days so far that school year.”

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