Last September, police and truant officers assuming homeschooled kids were truant was a concern of Illinois homeschooling parents. A month later, a parent wrote to the Rock River Times about the police picking up kids, so the problem for homeschoolers continued.
Homeschooling parents say that police still bother their children.
Lincoln Courier, Lincoln, Illinois, 11 April 2007, Truancy proposal rapped — Home schoolers claim they’re already being harassed
Parents of homeschooled children packed the council chamber at City Hall Tuesday evening as the city council’s ordinance committee began deliberating a state-mandated truancy ordinance.
Parents have complained to The Courier that they and their children are being harassed by local truancy officers and the Department of Children and Family Services about alleged truancy violations.
An Illinois school website says that truants are children subject to compulsory attendance who play hooky.
Will County Regional Office of Education, Truancy
A truant is defined as a child subject to compulsory school attendance and who is absent without valid cause from such attendance for a school day or portion thereof. A chronic truant is any student who misses 18 or more days of school without a proper excuse.
As private school students, kids homeschooled in Illinois should be in compliance with the rules of the school in which they’re enrolled, which doesn’t mean that they would always be out of public sight during the public school’s schedule.
Yet truancy seems to be a serious problem in Lincoln schools. Retired city police detective John Bunner, now a truancy officer for the Regional Superintendent of Schools, told the committee Tuesday that nearly one out of five students at Lincoln Junior High School have been truant.
Unfortunately, while walking down the street, the homeschooled kids’ probably don’t look much different from the publicly schooled kids. How do truant officers or police officers make the call as to who to stop and who to wave on?
Despite the difficulty of sifting the cheats from those who get a pass, I find it disconcerting to read that a retired teacher suggested badges for homeschooled kids. I presume that wearing the proposed badges would be voluntary and not mandated, but that opens up problems that precedent might lead to a law about kids-wearing-badges, or a black market for homeschool badges among public school kids might spring up, which would mean that parents would still be called to verify whether Jennifer and Aaron are homeschooled. Still, I’ve seen all adults — staff and visitors — tagged with badges at a nearby high school, so I can understand why the idea might seem attractive. It’s one thing, though, to tag people who need authorization to be in a restricted area, and quite another to tag people so they can be in public.
As with most things, it’s hard to tell from reading just one report, what daily conditions are like. I hope Illinois homeschoolers, and Illinois police and truant officers manage to work out a solution.
posted by Valerie