What truancy is and the law about it

The Hawaii Revised Statute, Hawaiian Laws, 571-11 (2-C) states that the court shall have jurisdiction [the official power to make legal decisions and judgments] over a juvenile “who is neither attending school, nor receiving educational services required by law whether through the child’s own misbehavior or nonattendance.” A juvenile is a person under eighteen years of age.

Let’s face it. The United States considers itself a democracy. That’s a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. We practice the principles of social equality. Choosing leaders who truly represent the needs and wants of his/her constituency — the people that leader represents — demands that the constituency be able to make the right choices and that takes some education. So, the federal government pays for your free public education.

At the 2016 Education Summit, Gov. David Ige shared that within a decade 70 percent of all jobs will require a college degree. The public schools were created so that students would be able to follow their own career choice by being well prepared in the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic, understanding scientific method, physical education for the body, some history and generally learning how to work and thrive in group social situations.

Because it is free to its children, many don’t realize how terribly important it is. But in the war-torn, or educationally suppressed countries, children sneak around, even sometimes risking their lives, to get it. Malala Yousafzai was shot in the face at age 12 because she spoke out for education, especially for girls, in Pakistan under the Taliban. She lived, and continued her work. She inspired delegates of the United Nations to petition for the right for education for all children. And at 17, she was the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Education is yours and our country’s future.

Ms. Ria Mukherjee, administrative assistant from United Religions Initiative East India, sent a let out to other URI members informing that Aug. 12 was declared International Youth Day. She also stated, “a youth is a future prospect of his or her country. He/she will be the pivot of his or her country’s prosperity. He/she is the symbol of energy and enthusiasm. So, every country depends on the young generation. They should be inspired by the departing present.”

The elders are responsible for guiding them in a positive direction.

She also stated that the motto of the International Youth Day was “the road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production,” and that “the youth of the globe should come forward to make the motto true and fact.” There must be a partnership between those who offer education, family who supports them in getting to the education sites with needed materials, and the students who must receive it and do their assignments.

Students must commit to everyone’s future, but especially their own by showing up and doing the work. The Hawaii DOE Administration is showing good faith by asking for feedback from students on what they need and want. This is the ideal which the law supports.

The other side of the law is that if a child is expected to be in a class, and doesn’t attend, he or she is interfering with his/her education by being truant, has broken the law, and the court can make a decision about what to do about it.

In Kauai high schools, students are informed at freshman orientation that not attending his/her scheduled classes interferes with a student’s education and is against the law. Technically, students are truant even if they are on the school grounds, but not in their classes.

Here’s another possible motivation: high school graduates earn over $8,000 more per year than dropouts. With 50 years of working, that’s a bonus of at least $400,000, according to the 2005 Clemson Truancy Reduction study.

And students, if you are having difficulty with a class, don’t quit. Get help. Ask your teacher to explain the subject in another way, or tell you how you can get some tutoring.

Schools offer tutoring programs for free. Take advantage of them. Take the same class for free at www.khanacademy.com. Sometimes it’s just one tiny thing that you missed, and when you get that, you zoom forward. The other side of that is that some kids get bored in high school. Well, if you keep your grades up, you can attend Kauai Community College for one credit a semester in your junior year and get both high school and college credit for it. In your senior year, you can take two.

Your family works to care for you by having jobs. It is your job to go to school to prepare yourself to be able to work and create a life so that you can care for yourself, and your loved ones.

It’s your parents’ responsibility to help you get your education. In fact, if a student is truant for more that 20 days, parents can be charged with educational neglect. So help each other out and stay in school. They are the most effective people in keeping you in school.

The second most effective people to help you stay in school are your peers. Encourage your classmates to come to school. There are three A’s that are important in a student’s experience that make them want to stay in school:

w Attendance: Students who lag in attendance often drop out because they become overwhelmed by what they’ve lost, and can’t catch up. Get help as soon as you feel you don’t understand something. Trust that the school staff wants you to succeed.

w Attachment: There has to be something at school that kids feel bonded to. It can be peers, teachers or other staff, a specific class and desire to learn something, a team or club after school. High school offers a once in a lifetime free chance to experiment and find out what you are good in, and what makes you happy in lots of different areas. Get to know your guidance counselor and get to know yourself.

w Achievement: We all want to succeed. We want to know that we’ve learned something when our efforts are over. Behaviorists have learned that people will keep doing things when they get a “reward” for it. So teachers, friends, staff: when you see people do something great, or make improvements, praise them. Remember that failure often leads to success the next time. It isn’t an end. It can show you what you need to do next to succeed. Experiments fail all the time, but scientists don’t consider them failures. They learn what didn’t work.

Take charge of having educational fun, and learning what you need and want to in school. May you build the you that you really want to be.


Hale ’Opio Kauai convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families. Email your questions to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org. For more information visit www.haleopio.org.


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