California middle schooler threatened with arrest for missing three 30-minute Zoom sessions

by Joel Abbott · Oct 23rd, 2020 3:36 pm

Last Updated Oct 24th, 2020 at 11:41 pm

A seventh-grader in California has been threatened with arrest for missing less than two hours of virtual learning time.

Mark Mastrov says his son Merek received a letter informing him of three unexcused absences and informing him that he was truant and "may be subject to arrest" as a result.

"He can become a truant of the state, and he could be arrested," said Mastrov. "I said, ‘Are you going to come arrest my son at my home or try to fine me for not getting him to his Zoom class on time, perfect every day?'"

Mastrov said that his son is required to attend virtual school for up to seven hours per day like most children in California.

Principal Betsy Balmat of Stanley Middle School in Lafayette, California, responded by saying new state guidelines require schools to keep a closer eye on student attendance.

"The letter is part of our responsibility to the state for our student attendance review boards," said Balmat. "As always, the schools have a responsibility to ensure students are engaged and learning."

Balmat said the family should have received a call prior to receiving a letter, which Mastrov says never happened.

"Obviously, we're in a pandemic, and Gov. Newsom is trying to manage it," said Mastrov. "But if the state of California is really going to spend a lot of time focusing on arresting 12-year-old children for missing 90 minutes of school in 10 months, it's ridiculous."


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