California school threatens child with arrest for missing 90 minutes of online classes
LAFAYETTE, California, October 28, 2020, (LifeSiteNews) –A California middle school has threatened a seventh grader with arrest for missing 90 minutes of online classes, with schools closed due to lockdown restrictions.
12 year old Merek Mastrov missed a total of three 30-minute zoom sessions in one month- an action that triggered a formal letter from the school threatening possible arrest for truancy.
“The letter the Mastrovs received from a school administrator lists the three periods Merek missed and says, ‘When a student is absent without a valid excuse, the student is considered truant,’ according to California law. Later, it noted, ‘The pupil may be subject to arrest’,” reported 1011 Now.
Local news outlet ABC 7 reported that Betsy Balmat, the Stanley Middle School principal, blamed new state guidelines as the reason for sending the letter. “The letter is part of our responsibility to the state for our student attendance review boards. As always, the schools have a responsibility to ensure students are engaged and learning,” Balmat told the news outlet.
However, the legislation Balmat referenced, CA SB 98, defines the criteria for chronic absenteeism as “three school days or 60 % of the instructional school days in a week” and makes no mention of letters threatening arrest.
A summary of the bill by the School & College Legal Offices of California states: “SB 98 does waive the minimum requirement for annual instructional minutes and provides flexibility in calculating minimum daily instructional minutes. Specifically, for the 2020–21 school year...”
It is unclear, then, why such draconian measures were taken for a mere 90 minutes of missed class. The boy’s father, Mark Mastrov, told the ABC7News his response to the ridiculous threat, “Are you going to come arrest my son in my home or come find me for not getting him to his zoom class on time perfect every day?” Mastrov continued, “Obviously we're in a pandemic and Gov. Newsom is trying to manage it, but if the state of California is focusing on arresting 12-year-old children for missing 90 minutes of school in ten months, it's ridiculous.”