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Families Face Steep Truancy Fines, Contentious Court Battles As Pandemic Creates School Attendance Barriers

Mark Keierleber, The 74 |

Feuds between frustrated parents and overwhelmed school administrators are playing out across the country as the pandemic’s academic upheaval reaches the one-year mark. States continue to enforce laws that require families to send their children to school or face steep punishments for unexcused absences, including fines, community service and, in some states, arrests.

These “truancy” rules have exacerbated the pandemic-induced challenges confronting many households, from economic instability and mental health crises to a lack of adequate internet access. It’s often these very hardships, school attendance experts say, that force students to miss school in the first place.

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