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Jail time for parents of truant kids?

State bill's get-tough stand a bit much for some

November 15, 2009
SOUTHBRIDGE — The state House of Representatives may soon send a warning to parents: Keep your kids in school or risk going to jail.

A bill (H.380) filed by Rep. James Fagan, D-Taunton, calls for parents of students who have more than seven unexcused absences within six months to be fined $1,000 or jailed for up to 30 days. Current law has a $20 fine and no jail time.

"No physical or mental condition capable of correction, or rendering the child a fit subject for special instruction at public charge in institutions other than public day schools, shall avail as a defense unless it appears that the defendant has employed all reasonable measures for the correction of the condition and the suitable instruction of the child," the bill states. It had a public hearing in the Education Committee last week.

General opinion in Southbridge is that such a law is excessive, but something needs to be done.

"I totally disagree with that, but don't really know what to do," said Dave St. Laurent. "Maybe we should make them go to school with their kids for a week or two weeks. If they missed work, they'll make sure the kids stay in school."

See Tuesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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