Should parents be arrested for their child’s unexcused absences?

A mom who was arrested because her son had too many unexcused absences at school says that schools shouldn’t require a doctor’s note.

Julie Giles told People she feels that requiring a doctor’s note each time her child was absent is over the top, and I agree with her. After her 10-year-old son had accumulated 12 absences, the Georgia mom got her own personal mug shot and a court date after her recent arrest.

According to Giles, three of her son’s absences were excused by a doctor, and the other nine weren’t. As her local school district allows six unexcused absences, she was taken to the pokey for a meager three days when her son didn’t go to school.

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Keep in mind that attendance policies vary from school district to school district. For example, where we live, absences are generally considered unexcused only if a child is absent for five consecutive days without a note from a doctor. If I call and say my child has been throwing up, she’ll be excused, end of story — and that’s the way it really should be. Our school district also works with kids who have ongoing medical issues or who need to be away from school on a regular basis for doctor visits.

So I can understand Giles’ irritation at the way her child’s case has been handled. She says she doesn’t take her child to the doctor every time he’s sick, which is completely fine. In fact, taking a kid to the doctor can be pointless, as children are often infected with viruses that can’t be treated by medicine anyway. This means the doctor’s visit is a waste of time and a waste of money, and it also exposes you and your child to a ton of other germs.

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Giles’ son is a good student and maintains his grades, so the additional absences aren’t affecting his schoolwork. I think this school district needs to alter its policy a bit and allow for a parent’s phone call and note to be a valid excuse for a day off. No, parents shouldn’t just keep their kids home “just because,” but if a child has a rough winter (as we did) and moms feel they need to keep their children home, they should be allowed to without requiring a doctor’s note every single time.