LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A Note from Home No Longer Good; School Absences May Become Abuse

Special to HuntingtonNews.Net
“A Bill to amend and reenact §49-1-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as
amended, relating to child abuse and neglect; clarifying that a child who
is physically healthy and presumed safe is a neglected child if the child
is habitually absent from school without good cause. ”

This horror is being voted on by the Committee on Education Friday morning
at 9:00AM. There are numerous reasons to oppose this legislation not the
least of which is the ambiguity. Nothing in the legislation defines what
constitutes “habitually absent” leaving it up to school officials to decide
when to take legal action.
What we do know is State Superintendent Jorea Marple considers 5 or more “unexcused absences” to be “chronic truancy.”Keep in mind, a parent’s note no longer suffices to excuse an absence.

What is an excused absence? A doctor’s note, a court date, a death in the
immediate family are “excused absences”. Johnny has a cold? Better rush him
to the doctor! Increase medical costs, bigger, sicker crowds in waiting
rooms and greater expense to parents. Don’t have insurance? Have insurance
but can’t afford the copay? Too bad!

Moving this to the family court system means less protections for parents
and more secrecy for educrats and other government officials. Current WV
law already deals with truancy. Rather than enforce existing law WV
officials want to further encroach on parental rights, all the way to the
point of legal action to revoke them.

This bill is loaded with unintended consequences and zero accountability on
the part of school officials. How is an already overburdened CPS going to
cope with the results of this disaster? How are parents unable to afford a
trip to the doctor going to pay an attorney to fight charges of child
neglect?
I encourage everyone to contact the members of the Education Committee to
fight this attack on parental rights. Their names and contact information
is available here:
http://www.legis.state.wv.us/committees/house/HouseCommittee.cfm?Chart=ed

Sincerely,

Stephanie E. Butcher
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