Newberg schools table decision on truancy fines for missing school

Newberg schools table decision on truancy fines for missing school »Play Video
Jon Franco, principal of Chehalem Valley Middle School, says truancy fines worked at his last school in Hillsboro.

NEWBERG, Ore. – The Newberg School Board is halfway to approving a plan to fine the parents of children who miss school.

Some parents and students said they’re not sure a $242 fine for truancy would work and reaction was mixed about the idea among those interviewed for this story.

“It’s their (student’s) fault, not the parents’ fault, so why would they fine the parents?” said Newberg resident Carole Erbe.

“Parents aren’t going to like it, but it might make them more responsible for their kids,” Tom Stram, also of Newberg, said.

Newberg resident Belinda Creighton said she thinks many students are just bored.

“You know what? If they made school interesting for the kids, the kids would want to go to school,” she said.

Even though the opinions varied, Chehalem Valley Middle School Principal Jon Franco said the idea worked at his last school in Hillsboro. He also said that attendance correlates with success.

“And with the new requirements in regards to standards and passing state benchmarks and increasing the graduation requirements, if they miss even a day, they’re behind,” Franco said.

He said the fine and court appearance would be a last resort. Long before that there would be numerous interventions.

“It’s all about weekly monitoring; it’s all about constant communication, and it’s all about getting everyone involved to realize the importance of this,” he said.

“It’s a good solution if that’s what gets everybody to school,” said Kennedy Stram.

But others said it is unlikely to help.

“I do know of some children that their parents don’t care if they go or not, and I don’t think fining them is going to make a difference,” said John Erbe of Newberg.

Some believe that when students reach high school they make their own decisions.

“Some kids go to school and then leave campus as soon as they get to school, and so the parents really don’t have control over whether or not the kids are in school,” said student Sarah Creighton.

Many parents, however, said that until children reach the age of 18 they are still under the control of their parents.

With no daytime curfew in Newberg, police can’t ticket kids for skipping school and police said it can’t fine parents unless the district has a policy to justify it.

UPDATE: The school board was expected to vote on the issue Monday, March 8.

However, in Monday night's meeting the Newberg School Board tabled the decision on whether local schools will impose these truancy fines. We're told the board will discuss the truancy issue at its next meeting, Monday, March 15.