Should teen mothers be held to truancy standards?
Well, here's an interesting dilemma:
A 16-year-old student who claims in a lawsuit that her school district discriminated against her because she is a teen mother has missed 211 days of school over the last four years, according to officials in the Harrisburg area school district.
That was the number given by the Central Dauphin School District in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The motion was filed Thursday in federal court.
The girl, identified in her lawsuit only as A.C., claims that the school district discriminates against her because she is a teen mother. She has asked the court to stop the district from pursuing truancy charges against her and her mother, identified in the lawsuit as C.B.
Instead, the girl claims that her absences should be excused because she takes them only when she needs to take her son, now 2, to the doctor, or because she doesn't have available child care.
But according to school district records, A.C. has shown "a pattern of absenteeism even prior to her pregnancy or birth of the child."
For instance, the defendants claim A.C. missed 37 days of school in the 2002-03 school year -- before she became pregnant. The next year, she missed 42 days.
In 2004-05, the year her son was born, A.C. missed 1001/2 days, including 17 that were unexcused, the district contends.
The school district filed truancy charges against A.C. four times and against her mother five times.
Somehow, I think there are some confused priorities here. This young woman has a child for which she is responsible. At the very least, doesn't she owe him an educated mother who can provide the minimum of support? I have a young lady this year who demonstrates very similar patterns in terms of attendance. There are very few students who can manage to learn anything in class when they are not actually in class. My student will probably have her credits revoked in a hearing in a few weeks-- although it's already a done deal, becuase she is not actually passing any classes. And our school district actually provides day-care for our students.
So what's important here: the education or the credential? Are schools just drop-in centers, and are state laws regarding attendance just unnecessary hindrances? Like it or not, this young lady still has not learned that there are consequences for her actions.
If taking care of her son makes school attendance impossible, perhaps she should try to get her GED and move on to the next stage of her life.