The New and Arising Problem: Truancy

Kyla Catarineau, Staff Writer

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Truancy… what is it? Most people had never heard of truancy before this year, and now it’s the talk of the school.

For those of you who still don’t know what truancy is, it is the action of staying away from school without good reason; absenteeism.

Florida law describes truancy as, “a student who has 15 or more unexcused absences within 90 calendar days with or without the knowledge or consent of the student’s parent or guardian, and who is subject to compulsory school attendance,” you can find this on http://www.fldoe.org/how-do-i/attendance-enrollment.stml.

It is a problem at our school mainly due to the sophomores; almost 15 percent of them have been truant this year, according to Coral Shores Principal Mr. Fry.

There are many different reasons a student is truant; some students with excused absences have even been said to be truant, which is not correct according to any definition you look up.

An example of someone who has gotten all of her absences excused but got a truancy letter is senior Mackenzie Smith. Smith said administration called her mom and said she wouldn’t be able to graduate if she had any more absences.

“I don’t understand; I make up all of my work and get all As and Bs, yet I’m being told that I may not be able to graduate,” said Mackenzie Smith. “I don’t think that if a student makes up all of their work and gets all As and Bs that they should be punished or called truant.”

Ms. Hortensi, a Coral Shores administrator, said that the grades of the students don’t matter when it comes to whether they are truant or not.

Many students agree with if you have As and Bs you shouldn’t be called truant, even if this new truancy trend hasn’t reached the students yet they agree.

“If you make up your work and are doing fine, then it okay to miss for good reason,” freshman Max Owens said. “If you just decide to skip school then you should absolutely be punished because you don’t have a good reason.”

Ms. Hortensi said, “Truancy is a state law. We don’t come up with the standard of the number of absences needed to be called truant. We can’t control who is truant or not, but we try to limit that number.”

As stated above the Google search engine defines truancy as being absent without a good reason, but right now students with excused absences are still being called truant. Nobody can understand this.

Ms. Hortensi added that school officials try to encourage students to attend school in any way possible.

“We have a truancy council that meets once every other week,” said Hortensi. “We try to see why a student is absent and what we can do to help, even if it’s buying an alarm clock for a student. Our goal is to get kids to school, not to punish them.”

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