- Associated Press - Friday, June 13, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly has approved an overhaul of the school district’s mandatory attendance rules despite testimony from parents opposed to the change.

The ordinance requires approval from the school board before changes would go into effect.

The issue drew a crowd of parents at the assembly’s meeting Thursday night, when the amended ordinance was approved with a 7-1 vote, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (https://is.gd/vGI37p).

The new rules would replace state truancy laws that officials say are overly burdensome and ineffective. School district and borough officials say the state takes too long to solve problems, adding the court process can take a year and massive fines often are dismissed.

Under the ordinance, chronic absences would prompt a mandatory warning, followed by citations of $50, $100 and $200 for subsequent violations.

“It’s the difference between a full legal case and a traffic ticket,” borough attorney Rene broker said.

More than a dozen parents attended the meeting. They expressed concerns that the new truancy rules would interfere with their ability to raise their children as they saw fit. It’s the borough’s burden of proof to bring a state case, and that’s why some parents opposed the change.

Others express concern about a list of excused absences. Assemblyman Karl Kassel asked parent Casandra Leon if she ever had a problem getting an absence excused.

She said no, adding she feared that would change under new rules.

“It should be hard for someone to tell a parent what they can do with their own kids,” Leon said. “It shouldn’t be easy.”

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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