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Parents Facing Felony Charges for Letting Kids Play Hooky

The Short of It

Can you be charged with a felony for letting your kids stay home from school? It's happening to parents at one school in Indiana.

The Lowdown

In my house, we call them "Zero Days," and my kids get one per school year.

What's a Zero Day? It's basically a free pass for those mornings when my kids just can't seem to crawl out from under the covers and drag themselves out of bed. If they cash in on their Zero Day, they get to stay home from school to rest and recharge.

But now I wonder if I could face felony charges for letting them. Last week at one Indiana middle school, two moms and one dad were charged with felonies after authorities called their kids' lack of attendance excessive.

According to The Star Press, the Muncie Middle School administrators send letters home when a child has missed five, seven, nine, 10, 12 and 15 days of school. The last three letters are sent by certified mail, and the 12-day notice includes scheduling a conference at the school.

Indiana's Delaware County chief deputy prosecutor Judi Calhoun charged each of the three Muncie parents with a Level 6 felony but declined to specify how many days the students in question had missed, saying authorities didn't want to establish a threshold as to when charges would be filed. Those decisions, she said, are made on a case-by-case basis and not entirely based on the number of absences. They also focus on a student's scholastic performance and the parents' response to concerns raised by the school.

The felony charge carries up to 30 months in prison, but Calhoun said the parents would only receive citations to appear in court, since jailing the parents would likely make it even less likely their child would show up for school.

The Upshot

The move to criminalize moms and dads for letting their kids play hooky is one that's sparked heated debate. Some parents feel that the decision to let kids skip school and stay home is their own perogative. Others point to the correlation between absences and lower grades.

I think you can probably guess where I stand on the issue. Now it's your turn to let us know what you think in the comments below. Is it fair or not?

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