Parent and guardian criminal liability for compulsory school attendance
Schools across the country are experiencing growing concerns about student attendance, particularly as state and national policies are holding schools more accountable for the attendance of their students. The challenges to compulsory school attendance, as well as the issues that present themselves as a result of student absences, may never be completely recognized or resolved. However, it is important to be aware of the laws and subsequent legal rulings that affect students and their families, particularly as they relate to litigation implications for parents and guardians of school-age children. Compulsory attendance laws require that parents or legal guardians ensure their children’s school attendance. While compulsory statutes may vary state to state, the parents and legal guardians are granted a certain degree of rights in directing the educational decisions for their children. It is imperative that both educators and parents understand how those rights may be balanced with those given to the local school systems and the State to mitigate further challenges to compulsory attendance laws. The purpose of this research was to study issues, outcomes, and trends in cases involving liability of parents and guardians in relation to the truancy of their children. The researcher endeavored to reveal information that would prove helpful to educational leaders at all administrative levels of education in terms of general compulsory school attendance knowledge, as well as mitigate future litigation related to compulsory school attendance and parent liability. Furthermore, findings from this study could help inform future compulsory school attendance legal and policy actions. The West Law Digest System was used to obtain data and information on the topic of parent and guardian liability for compulsory school attendance. The study encompassed 101 cases involving parent and guardian liability for compulsory school attendance between the years of 1918-2014. Each case was analyzed using the framework of Statsky and Wernet (1995). The analysis of the cases in this study included a review of the instructional settings, school levels, states, case issues, prosecuting claims, cases citing Yoder, Pierce, and Meyer, and defensive claims.