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Letters threatening legal action over student absences sent to Nashville parents

Metro Nashville Public School officials sent nearly 6,000 letters to parents across the city over poor student attendance since virtual school started, CBS affiliate WTVF reported.
Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 10:01 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/WTVF) -Metro Nashville Public School officials sent nearly 6,000 letters to parents across the city over poor student attendance since virtual school started.

CBS affiliate WTVF reported, the letters threaten legal action against parents and their kids by a state law called the Compulsory Attendance Law. Students who have missed 5 or more days and were unexcused were sent letters.

Emily Miller said she received one of the letters for her five-year-old son who is attending Kindergarten virtually. Miller said her son has struggled to maintain focus as he’s attending daycare virtually.

“It was basically a letter stating because he’s missed more than five days, he and I have broken the law and we could be charged with truancy for him being absent for more than five days unexcused,” said Miller.

An MNPS spokesperson told WTVF the intent of the letters isn’t to threaten or scare parents. It’s supposed to spur them into finding ways to get their kids to attend class.

“We want our parents to hear loud and clear that our first line of defense is to support them. This is about informing them when they receive that letter and then layering on the appropriate supports after we have assessed. We don’t intend and that is not our aim to take legal action against our families,” said Dr. Michelle Springer Chief of Students Services for MNPS.

Dr. Springer said the Compulsory Attendance Law existed before the pandemic started and the letters are required to be sent for any student with five unexcused absences.

Dr. Springer said there is support available for parents struggling with virtual classes.

“We know that we must be flexible. This virtual learning environment that our students our experiencing is difficult,” said Dr. Springer.

“It’s a fear tactic,” Miller said. “I guess they’re trying to scare people into participating. I know there’s so many families that can’t. They don’t have child care. They don’t have an option. They are having to leave their kids at home. I think about single moms. I think about people that English is not their first language.”

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