Indianapolis police rounded up dozens of children yesterday in a citywide sweep of students skipping school, reports the Indianapolis star. By noon, 31 children had been hauled to a family center, where they were counseled by school social workers and sternly admonished by a juvenile court magistrate not to ditch classes again. Parents of truant children can be charged with a misdemeanor that carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine upon conviction.
Once a school district determines a child is truant, a prosecutor sends a warning letter to the parents or guardians. Yesterday, many parents or guardians were called away from jobs so they could retrieve their children. If the parents were annoyed, so were the police. “We’re not baby sitters,” said Terry Winston, one of four school liaison officers for the Indianapolis Police Department. “Kids don’t have the option of not going to school. Parents don’t have the option of not being responsible for what their kid does or doesn’t do.” Police and school officials want the state to put more teeth into laws addressing how truants are handled to underscore that cutting school won’t be tolerated. They say truancy is a gateway to other crimes, such as vandalism, property theft, and burglary.