2016 Bills

SB45: Decriminalizing Truancy for Parents

This bill passed the Senate 22-5 and passed the House 39-35 after being modified, but the Senate and House could not agree to the final changes, so the bill died.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

Recently, we pointed out the problems with criminalizing parents for their children’s non-attendance at government schools and how many parents are charged with crimes from the truancy of their children in Utah. Senate Bill 45, sponsored by Senator Al Jackson, decriminalizes truancy by eliminating the class B misdemeanor offenses for parents in the state’s compulsory education law.

Childhood education in our country has gone from private and optional to public and mandatory. However, schools were never intended—and are not equipped—to replace parents. School attendance choices are a parental responsibility. When government imposes criminal sanctions for non-attendance, it is implicitly claiming a right over parental roles that it does not—and should not—have.

Moreover, taxpayers should not be asked to pay for the law enforcement, judicial, and incarceration costs associated with imposing criminal penalties on non-attendance so that schools can ensure their budgets are unaffected by changes in attendance. This is an inappropriate use of criminal justice resources.

This bill helps restore the balance of power between parents and schools. Schools serve the needs of parents who enroll their children in schools, not the other way around.