LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO/CNN) – A parent in California says he received a letter from his son’s middle school threatening the boy’s arrest for missing less than two hours of Zoom class.
Mark Mastrov said, "This is our fourth child going through this middle school and out of the blue, we got a letter."
Mastrov said his family was stunned when they received the letter that threatened his 7th grade son for missing three 30-minute Zoom sessions, which the school said were unexcused absences.
"He can become a truant of the state and he could be arrested. I said, 'are you going to come and try to arrest my son at my home, or try to fine me for not getting him to his Zoom class perfect, on time everyday?'” Mastrov said.
Merek Mastrov spends up to seven hours a day attending virtual school at Stanley Middle School. The letter from school administrators lists the three periods he missed and states “when a student is absent without a valid excuse, the student is considered truant” according to California law. It also states, “the pupil may be subject to arrest.”
The school’s principal said the letter is the result of new state guidelines passed this fall, Senate Bill 98, which requires districts to keep a closer eye on student attendance.
Principal Betsey Balmat said, “The letter is part of our responsibly to the state for our student attendance review boards, as always, the schools have a responsibility to ensure students are engaged and learning.”
Mastrov said other parents have told him they’ve received similar letters. He also said he is writing lawmakers to urge a change in the law.
“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,” he said.
California public schools traditionally rely on daily attendance numbers for state and federal funding.