Bill Would Allow Top-Performing Students to Miss School

Written by Bob Bernick on . Posted in Today At Utah Policy

Rep. Francis Gibson is about to give some really smart high school students a ticket to ride. Literally.

 

His HB399 says that if a student is 14 or older and has a 3.5 grade point average then his school district can’t issue a “habitual truant citation” against him for missing a lot of school.

That means neither the kid, nor is parents, can be hauled into court and face criminal sanctions for the child continually skipping school or leaving early.

It might be called a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for smart, but truant, high school students.

Oh, how many of us – and you know who you are – would have loved that out in our high school days.

(Mr. Middleton -- my high school’s disciplinary vice-principal -- roll over in your grave.)

Gibson, R-Mapleton, who admitted to UtahPolicy that he may have missed a few school days in his high school career, is quick to point out that his bill does NOT stop high school administrators from taking actions against kids who skip school, or race out of the parking lot at lunch time and never return.

“They can issue letters to parents about their children missing classes; they can withhold a graduation degree or take other administrative actions, (like maybe keeping them off of sports teams or out of dance club). But they can’t take the kids and parents to court.”

One of his main reasons for his bill is not to give a pass – literally – to kids, but rather to release harried parents from a criminal charge for a child they don’t quit control.

“The kid can drive. He goes off to school. How can you hold his parents criminally responsible for where he goes after that?” asks Gibson – if the child’s only “crime” is missing school.

“If the kid is earning a 3.5, he’s clearly doing the work. He clearly is doing something right.

“I’m not advocating that kids should miss school; but if they do they shouldn’t be taken to court and get a criminal record” if they are at the top of their class.

Gibson said his bill would not have applied to himself during his high school years: “I never got a 3.5 – maybe a 3.0.”

So, watch for amendments presented on the House floor – maybe from those less than stellar high schoolers-now-representatives who may want to lower that 3.5 to 3.0, or 2.0.