A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT relating to the failure of a parent to attend a public school parent-teacher conference; providing a criminal penalty.
�������BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: �������SECTION�1.��Chapter 26, Education Code, is amended by adding Section 26.014 to read as follows: �������Sec.�26.014.��FAILURE TO ATTEND PARENT-TEACHER CONFERENCE.
(a) A parent of a student commits an offense if:
�������������(1)��the parent receives written notice by certified mail of at least three proposed dates from which the parent can choose for scheduling a parent-teacher conference between the parent and the student’s teacher;
�������������������(A)��fails to respond to the notice; or
�������������������(B)��schedules a parent-teacher conference on one of the dates proposed in the notice or on an alternative date agreed to by the parent and teacher and fails to:
�������������������������(i)��attend the scheduled conference; or
�������������������������(ii)��before the scheduled conference, notify the teacher or an administrator of the campus to which the teacher is assigned that the parent will be unable to attend the conference; and
�������������(3)��in the case of a student with more than one parent, another parent of the student does not attend a parent-teacher conference scheduled in accordance with this subsection.
�������(b)��An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
�������(c)��An offense under this section may be prosecuted in a court in which an offense under Section 25.094(b) may be prosecuted.
�������(d)��It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the parent had a reasonable excuse for failing to attend the parent-teacher conference.
�������(e)��The clerk of the court in which an offense under this section is prosecuted shall transfer the proceeds of any fine collected by the court under this section to the school district that employs the teacher with whom the parent was scheduled to meet in the parent-teacher conference. The district may use funds collected under this section only to: �������������(1)��provide additional compensation to classroom teachers in the district; or
�������������(2)��purchase school supplies other than textbooks as defined by Section 31.002.
�������SECTION�2.��This Act takes effect September 1, 2007.
I don’t believe that I’ve ever been one to hold teachers’ solely accountable for student achievement since parent involvement is obviously a significant factor in the equation. And while I’m sure that there are many teachers who think that parents need to be held accountable for their actions (and many parents who deserve it), I’m not sure this is the way to do it.
Besides the various legalities involved and the burden it might place on a parent to present an affirmative defense, I don’t think this will really accomplish anything except maybe collect some additional funds for the classroom.
Think about it this way. A teacher schedules a parent-teacher conference. The parents don’t show up because a: their cultural or economic situation affects their ability to respond to the summons appropriately or b: they think it’s a waste of time. Now if the case is a, you have just added another burden on the parents to defend themselves. They can’t get time off of work (I’m sure there’s a bill to address that as well) but they will have to take time off to appear before a judge to explain why they can’t attend the conference.
Then there is case b. You now have a law that forces the parents to show up if for no other reason so that they avoid a fine. What do you think will be accomplish during that conference period? They will see the light and make sure junior does his homework every night? They will start enforcing a reasonable bed time for their kids or turn off the tv? Talk about a hostile audience.
I can just see this progressing until we have some version of NCLB for parents. As in the case of students, they will first be forced to spend a certain amount of time receiving “instruction.” Then someone will realize that it would be a good idea if they were to actually learn something from the instruction and will implement some sort of “no pass no play” rule for parents.
This may seem like such a simple solution to the problem of the lack of parental involvement. However, if we have learned anything in education reform, there are no simple solutions.