While many students are looking forward to putting their new school supplies to use, others are choosing to skip out on lessons.
In an effort to keep kids in the classroom for the whole day, a Connecticut school district is considering a $75 fine for students who skip school.
New Britain’s new superintendent, Kelt Cooper is trying to end high truancy among public school students through an absence fine. He is not the first to try this method as a consequence.
Parents of an Ohio student found guilty of habitual truancy could face a $500 fine or be required to complete 70 hours of community service. In previous years, students in Los Angeles could have faced a $200 fine each time they skipped school. Since many people believed the policy was too strict school officials lowered it to a $20 fine for the third offense.
During the 2008-2009 school year, the Lebanon School District in Pennsylvania fined parents up to $500,000 for their child’s absence, charging $300 per offense. One parent even accrued a $27,000 fine that led to a 2011 lawsuit against the Pennsylvania district.
The fines are also taking effect overseas. In the UK, parents can be fined £50 (about $80) each time their child does not attend school. If the fine is not paid within 28 days, it doubles in price. School districts in the UK also do not consider family vacations during the school year as excused absences.
So, are these fines really keeping kids in the classroom?
According to a UK survey, 79 percent of respondents found that the fines helped improved classroom attendance. Since the truancy law took effect in 2004, UK school officials issued over 127,000 fines to parents. But, half of the penalties were either withdrawn or never paid.
Although school officials in Connecticut are unsure if the truancy policy will prove to be a success, they are willing to give it a try.
“The mayor agrees that truancy is a real issue in New Britain schools, and what’s been done in the past hasn’t been working to increase attendance,” said Phil Sherwood, aide to Mayor Timothy O’Brien.
Students view the new penalty as a waste of time.
“I don’t see the point,” said a 17-year-old incoming high school senior. “Kids will just try harder not to get caught.”