Parents Would Be Required To Notify School Of Child’s Absence Under New Bill

An Assembly panel on Thursday advanced legislation to require parents to notify a school if a child will be absent, and in turn require schools to notify parents if a student fails to attend, an idea stemming from the tragic disappearance of a Nashville teen. The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr.

“It’s well known that the first few hours of a child’s abduction are the most vital to the recovery process,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Tabitha’s Law is meant to provide families and law enforcement with an early warning trigger during that critical time. Our hearts go out to the family of Tabitha Tudor who to this day still has not received complete closure.”

The bill would require parents to notify school administrators whenever their child will be absent from school, and requires administrators to contact parents whenever a pupil is absent without the parent’s having provided prior notice.

On the morning of April 29, 2003, 13-year-old Nashville, Tennessee student, Tabitha Tudor, did not show up for school.

Although school administrators had received no notification from Tabitha’s parents that she would be absent that day, the school failed to alert the Tudors of their daughter’s unexplained absence. As a result, her parents did not learn that Tabitha was missing until after her father arrived home at 4:45 p.m. Due to the delay, law enforcement officials and Tabitha’s parents lost an entire day before their search could begin. Tabitha is still missing.

The measure was unanimously approved by the Assembly Education Committee, chaired by Diegnan. TLS.

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  1. Poor Tabitha and what a nightmare her parents must be living.

    The law should be amended to include latenesses as well. If a child is coming late the school should be informed so that they do not think that the child is possibly missing.

    By the way, the record-keeping will be a challenge for any school, and especially those with a large student population (think the Cheder and Bais Faiga). Then there will be a time lag: you cannot take attendance for the first 15 minutes or so because buses are late, children are playing in the yard or in the bathroom and so on. Okay, 15 minutes after the bell you take attendance, and then send the names of the children who are absent to the office. The secretarial staff matches up the note from the teacher with the information the parents called in (which they will be too lazy to do, mark my words) and starts making phone calls.

    The student who missed the 15 minute deadline (good game outside, or prolonged session in the powder room) strolls into class while his mother is getting a call at work that he hasn’t shown up to school yet.

    Okay, you write the rest of the story.

  2. I think that’s very feasible with bulk calling from a pre-populated list of absent students. The parents then have to enter their PIN and press leys to let the district know if the absence is waaranted or not.

    Of course there are also RFID systems for school attendance or buse attendance, but those are more expensive…

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