You think you're being a good parent by keeping your child home from school when they're sick, preventing them from infecting other children, only to find out that you are in violation of the law.

Under the new zero tolerance truancy policy, the Valdosta and Lowndes County school systems are turning parents in to the juvenile court system, even when the child's absence is excused. A number of parents who have contacted the newspaper say even hospitalization isn't considered a good enough excuse in the eyes of the schools.

According to the school systems, they are tired of being penalized by state and federal mandates, such as the No Child Left Behind Act, for allowing too many absences. The schools lose funding for every day a child is out of school and are marked down on evaluations for an excessive number of absentee days.

But is turning parents over to an already overburdened juvenile court system the right way to handle the problem? The judge and law enforcement shouldn't be faulted for doing their jobs and following the letter of the law, but is this the best use of their time?

Yes, parents should be held accountable for their children. Yes, truancy is a problem and excessive absenteeism should be addressed, even to the point of holding a child back to repeat a grade.

These laws were enacted in the best interest of both children and the schools, but causing the now widespread belief among parents that they will be hauled into court for legitimately ensuring that a sick child is kept out of school is wrong.

School systems should better educate parents so they understand the seriousness of keeping a child out of school, to ensure that absences are legitimate. Turning children and their parents over to the legal system should be the last, not the first, course of action taken.

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