Bill to Cite Truant Students Passes Legislative Committee

(KCPW News)  A bill that makes one small change to current law would require a school district, charter school, or school board to issue a truancy citation to a student who is habitually absent.  Former Senator and Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner, who worked on the legislation while he was in office, told a senate committee Monday that kids twelve and older don’t have a “stick in the system” that makes them go to school.

“Changing this ‘may’ to ‘shall’ will put a burden a little bit on the juvenile justice system.  But it’s a necessary evil, if you will, to keep kids in school, get their attention, and make it so administrators can be more successful in the education product they are providing to our kids,” said Greiner.

Greiner says under current law, only the parents of a child under twelve can be given a misdemeanor citation if their child isn’t in school. He says the change would also help keep kids off the streets.

Senator Daniel Thatcher supported the bill, but was concerned Juvenile Justice Services wasn’t consulted before the bill was drafted, adding it may take some power away from schools.

“When you change a ‘may’ to a ‘shall’ you take discretion away from the people who know that kid best.  You are taking discretion from those schools to say ‘Johnny might qualify, but if we can just do a couple more things I think maybe we can reach him,’” said Thatcher.

Senate Bill 191 passed unanimously out of the Senate Education Committee Monday and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.