Throw Kids In Jail To “Encourage” Them To “Learn.”

Mark Mastrov’s 12 year old son is being threatened with going to jail.

The son is the fourth of four children and a straight A student.

So what could make this kid go awry? What heinous crime could end this kid in jail?

LAFAYETTE (CA.) — Miss three 30-minute Zoom classes in a single day and go to jail?

For a 12-year-old Stanley Middle School student, that could be the consequence, according to a letter the boy’s father received from the school principal.

And according to the seventh-grader’s father, Mark Mastrov, other Lafayette parents have received similar letters because their children allegedly missed Zoom time during their distance learning — a pandemic version of playing hooky.

“Out of the blue, we got this letter. It said my son had missed classes, and at the bottom it referenced a state law which said truants can go to jail for missing 90 minutes of class,” Mastrov said in an interview. “I called the school and said, ‘Hey, I want to clear this up.’

The school wanted to work with Mastrov to figure out what was going on. If there was a real problem, both parties wanted to correct the issue.


Just kidding.

“I was told that it was the law. [Mastrov] said

So the law is that to encourage kids to learn and attend school, you throw them in jail?

In a time when kids are learning from home, you want to send the kid to jail where COVID-19 may be more of a problem, to say nothing of having a jail sentence on his record?

The state education code defines a student as truant if absent from school without a valid excuse three full days in a single school year, if consistently tardy or if absent for more than a 30-minute period during the school day without a valid excuse on three occasions in a single school year.

Consequences can range from requiring the student to attend make-up classes to paying fines and ultimately to being jailed if the truancy persists.

Stanley Middle School Principal Betsy Balmat said the school’s attendance policy has not changed amid the coronavirus pandemic even though students now attend classes online from home and aren’t supposed to be in their schools’ classrooms.

If a student has unverified absences, the school will make up to three automatic calls to the parent or guardian to let them know their child missed class, Balmat said.

“If we have not heard back after three of those, we send a letter,” the principal added.

This is even more ridiculous.

The school makes robo-calls to the home and then sends a letter instead of someone actually picking up a phone and calling the parents?

It’s not like the schools and teachers aren’t supposed to be interacting with parents concerning the education of the child:

What has changed under a recent state law intended to reflect the times is that teachers now must make sure students are actually participating and not just attending class, [Betsy Balmat] said. Senate Bill 98 was approved in conjunction with the $202 billion budget that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed in July.

The new law aims for more accountability in distance instruction and requires teachers to interact live with students every day, whether online, by phone or both. Teachers also must communicate regularly with parents about their child’s progress in class. (emphasis ours)

We understand the idea that there are parents out there who think that their kids can do no wrong. Perhaps that is the case here. We don’t see how that fits with a kid that is a straight A student, but anything is possible. What is curious to us is that the school is relying on robo-calls and automated letters instead of actually treating the kid and the family like real people. After all, M.H. Stanley Middle school only has 1,227 students in grades 6-8 with a student-teacher ratio of 22 to 1.

If a teacher can’t make a personnel phone call, send an email or a text to the parents, etc., something is definitely wrong.

In this case, Mastrov says he son is online, but may be logging in after the teacher takes attendance. That’s still a problem and the kid needs to be signing in before the class starts, but it is not a problem that should result in a threat to send the kid to jail.

Teachers and families are all having difficulties in adjusting to virtual learning and other issues presented by COVID-19. We can’t see how this automated approach of threats, as well as the idea that a kid could be jailed, helps with any of the problems.

Something is clearly out of whack here.

When the school district is threatening a straight A student with jail for missing classes, it makes one wonder how the kid is doing so well. Is the course material that easy? Is the grading that skewed? If the teacher is supposed to contact the parents concerning the kid’s progress, wouldn’t not being in class be detrimental to that progress? Shouldn’t the teacher have contacted the parents?

We still wonder how locking a kid up is going to make them want to learn. How is being in jail going to motivate them?

We don’t see it.

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