The parents of a 12-year-old boy are livid after school officials sent them a letter warning that their son could face arrest for missing a few online classes. Mark Mastrov admitted that his son Merek missed three 30 minute classes last month but didn't think anything of it at the time.
Under a new law passed by California legislators in the fall, schools must make a concerted effort to crack down on truancy, even as many students are engaged in remote learning. Officials at Stanley Middle School in Lafayette, California, said that Merek's absences were unexcused, and under the new guidelines, he is considered truant.
"When a student is absent without a valid excuse, the student is considered truant," the letter stated. It also warned that "the pupil may be subject to arrest."
Mastrov blasted officials for threatening to arrest his son and immediately contacted administrators at the school.
"He can become a truant of the state, and he could be arrested," Mastrov told KGO. "I said, 'Are you going to come and try to arrest my son at my home, or fine me for not getting him to his Zoom class perfectly, on time every day?'"
The school's principal defended the letter but admitted that the school should have called Merek's parents first.
"The letter is part of our responsibly to the state for our student attendance review boards, as always, the schools have a responsibility to ensure students are engaged and learning," Principal Betsy Balmat told the new station.
Mastrov called on politicians to change the law, saying that it is "ridiculous" for state officials to spend time trying to arrest kids for missing a few online classes.
"Obviously, we're in a pandemic, and Gov. [Gavin] Newsom is trying to manage it, but if the state of California is really going to spend a lot of time focusing on arresting 12-year-old children for missing 90 minutes of school in 10 months, it's ridiculous," he said.
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