Students Could Be Arrested for Playing Hooky
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Think again.
-Piper Weiss, Yahoo! Shine
If Ferris Bueller lived in Covington, Kentucky, he’d have a lot more to deal with than just his principal. A new city ordinance, enacted January 2, has police taking school truancy into their own hands. If kids are caught skipping school they could now be arrested on misdemeanor charges. If their parents are complicit in the hooky-playing, they too could be hauled into court. It’s all part of a new crackdown led by Ken Kippenbrock, Director of Pupil Personnel for the Covington school district.
“If you have a recurring problem with a student this is the way to get this family in front of the judge,” Kippenbrock tells Shine. “We’re trying to increase the likelihood that child is going to graduate; we know the cost to society when child drops out.”
This week, local police were given a cheat sheet with times when kids should be in school (essentially 8am to 3pm) along with early dismissals, and procedures to follow when encountering a kid outside of school during those hours. If they come across a suspected skipper, officers have the option to bring the child back to school, return them to their parents’ home, or if the child isn’t allowed back in the school, and their parents can’t be reached, booking them.
“Most officers I know are likely to give a warning at first, but if they have a child repeatedly deliberately violating school rules they can use their discretion,” says Kippenbrock.
It’s an extreme measure for extreme times. Last year, the district, which oversees 4,000 students from kindergarten through twelfth grade, clocked about 13,500 unexcused absences. Because state funding is based on attendance, Kippenbrock says the district lost about $500,000 last year because of the poor record. He hopes that enforcing a city-wide “daytime curfew” will force both kids and parents to take skipping school more seriously.
But can it actually work? “It’s hard to know,” Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, tells Shine. “This approach has been tried at different times and at different parts of the country and it’s generally been abandoned, because parents raise a stink and politicians back down.”