Parents of students at Adrian High School in Michigan will face stiffer penalties if their teen skips school this year. The city's commissioners approved an ordinance last week that could potentially punish parents of absent teenswith a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.
Michigan is not the only state using legal avenues to crack down on truancy. In Illinois, excessive absences—nine unexcused absences or more—are considered a form of child neglect, a misdemeanor that can carry a penalty for parents of up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. The law was updated last year to reduce the number of days a student could miss before truancy courts step in.
Skipping school can mean serious consequences for teens, too. High school students deemed truants can have their driving privileges revoked in some states, and many districts ban truant students from participating in school sports or extracurricular activities.
If the threat of fines or jail time isn't enough to prompt parents to address truancy, research suggests that teens who regularly skip school are more likely than their peers to drop out of school or experiment with drugs and alcohol.