Many years and whole generations ago, skipping school was a risky chance that was occasionally taken. As long as no one saw you and your teacher didn’t speak to your parents in person you probably earned yourself a story to tell your friends. As years passed and truancy officers became popular, skipping school was something fewer students took a chance on. While these topics may seem ancient and amusing, the story was anything but in Washington where one group of Private School children came up on the wrong side of the radar with the local Truancy Officer.
WASHINGTON – Some parents are questioning D.C. Police policy after several private school students were picked up by a truancy officer and transported in a van without seat belts.
The incident happened in November, when four children who attend St. Peter’s Interparish School on Capitol Hill were stopped by a Metropolitan Police Department Truancy Officer and asked why they weren’t in school.
The students, two 8-year-olds and two 12-year-olds, told the officer that they attend a private Catholic school, which was closed that day, and asked the officer to call their parents.
However, the officer insisted on driving the students to their homes so she could speak with one of the parents face-to-face.
Most parents would agree that the idea of a truancy officer is good, as is the fact that the officer was obviously out doing the job. However, the ease of follow through to verify the children’s story was overshadowed by a seeming desire to teach a group of children a lesson that just wasn’t theirs to learn. These Private School students’ day became a very public day off.
Crump said police policy is that private school students who are out of school on a day that public schools are in session must carry a letter from the school.
“If a child is excused or suspended from school, they are required to carry a notice indicating as such in case they are stopped. The Department is only informed of the status of the D.C. Public Schools. Efforts are being made to ensure that both charter and private schools provide information on a daily basis to the Patrol Services and School Security Bureau,” Crump said.
Some parents find the requirement a bit excessive.
“If your school has a parent teacher conference that day, all of the children in your school are supposed to have a letter from the school that they carry with them?” Woodhull said. “It’s crazy.”
This is another case where a simple solution combined with common sense and mutual respect has turned into a procedure mired in enough red tape to make anyone want to call in sick and play hooky.