New Laws Punish Parents for Kids Misbehaving at School

California charging parents with a misdemeanor for too much absence from class


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": All right, I’ve been looking up to this issue here. Kids acting up at school or skipping school, and they usually get punished at school. But more states are now punishing the parents, I kid you not, and not with a detention in the principal’s office. Try a $500 fine in Alaska, a misdemeanor charge in California.

What do these parents think?

I’ve got Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl and the founder of I love that, just the name of that site -- Lyss Stern.

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: It’s so great. It’s so great.

Let’s end it with you, begin with you then. What do you make of this -- punish the parents?

LYSS STERN, FOUNDER, DIVALYSSCIOUS MOMS: I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. And I’m 100 percent against it.

In fact, being a mom of two children -- I’m a working mom. My husband is a working father, and more and more parents that we know are working, and we’re all doing the best that we can. And I feel that it -- now is not time for the government to fine us. Now is the time for the government to step up and say, you know what? I’m going to help these working parents out, and I’m going to help these parents, and I’m going to help them prioritize.

I’m not just going to go out and fine them. The economy right now is not at the -- obviously, we all know it’s not where it should be. And people are sometimes having to work...

CAVUTO: So you think it’s just going too far?

STERN: Absolutely.

CAVUTO: Lis, what do you think?

LIS WIEHL, FOX NEWS LEGAL ANALYST: I’m in total agreement with Diva here, absolutely. That’s crazy.

I mean, and the California law that’s fining people $500 is instigated by, what, a kindergartner who didn’t make it to class, a -- they’re barely out of pull-up pants, and you’re going to fine the parents because they can’t -- the kid doesn’t get to class? You’re talking about working parents.

CAVUTO: Well, what if the kid is consistently late?

WIEHL: This is -- but that wasn’t the case.

CAVUTO: I grant you.


STERN: And I want to say something. If -- yes, if the child is consistently late, I think it is the school’s responsibility to call the parents in and have a conference with them.


CAVUTO: Well, how do we know that wasn’t done here? I’m not excusing it. I’m just trying to understand its rationale.

WIEHL: Because here are the options in this little quiz that we have here that came in. You know, call the parents, one, or call the district attorney and have charges brought against the parents.

And with the California law is, oh, skip calling the payments. Let’s just -- let’s just call them into the district attorney. That is really going to help? And as my eighth grader, who is home sick today -- I hope I am not fined for that -- said to me, she said...

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: Oh, she’s so faking it.



WIEHL: She did ask for a play date this afternoon. I said, no, you have been home sick.


CAVUTO: It’s a beautiful day here. All right. We are watching her.

(LAUGHTER) WIEHL: Watching you.


But, anyway, it is crazy. She said is that really going to make the relationship better between the teachers and the parents and then the kid? No, I don’t think so.

And, by the way, personal pet peeve here, why are all the parent- teacher conferences, parent-teacher coffees and all of that scheduled during school hours, when working moms, diva or not, cannot make it there?

CAVUTO: Maybe you don’t care. Maybe you don’t care about your children.

WIEHL: Oh. OK, you know what? I will just take this off air with you, buddy.


CAVUTO: Here is what I think is going to happen, though. It is just part of this nanny state thing, where food companies being slapped fines for tempting your kids and stuff. I just worry about the bigger picture here.

STERN: I agree. And the bigger picture here that I’m also worried about, and I know you’re worried about and many -- and parents out there are worried about is, like, is it the government’s responsibility -- no -- to be slapping these fines on us?



CAVUTO: But if kids are doing badly or -- and let’s say they’re not as great parents -- let’s say not everyone is as great parents as you guys, should there be some measure or punishment for those who either don’t care or slough off or don’t take their responsibility seriously?

WIEHL: There’s a big difference between sloughing off, all right, which I don’t think people should be fined for -- I mean, kids are going to be -- they’re going to do what they’re going to do.

On the other hand, if your kid is running around with neo-Nazi signs and burning cats in the street, that’s a signal that your kid has some problems.

STERN: That’s a red flag.

WIEHL: Right. That’s a red flag. And if your kid then goes out and does something bad, you do have liability at that point.

But just because they...

CAVUTO: Let’s say, hypothetically, they’re skipping class and getting in trouble and in constant detention, just hypothetically. If an 8-year- old were to do that...

WIEHL: Just hypothetically.


CAVUTO: ... would that be a problem?

WIEHL: Let me come over to your house and...

(CROSSTALK) CAVUTO: So, bottom line, you guys are both saying, back off.


WIEHL: No. It’s way too far.

(CROSSTALK) STERN: Way too far.

WIEHL: Right.

STERN: Back off and let...

WIEHL: And put some of those resources, if we’re going to put them, into kids that really are in trouble and need the help, as you said.

STERN: I agree. And you know what? Let’s give the parents resources.

CAVUTO: How long has California had this law in effect?

WIEHL: I don’t know. It’s very recent.

STERN: It is.


CAVUTO: Wouldn’t it be a pistol if it dated back to Arnold?



WIEHL: Oh, boy.

CAVUTO: You really got to watch yourself.

WIEHL: I’ll be back.

CAVUTO: All right. Well, we will leave that alone. We’ll leave that alone.

STERN: Yes, we’ll leave that alone.


CAVUTO: Ladies, thank you very, very much. Hope you have a good weekend.

And what is your daughter’s name?

WIEHL: Danielle (ph).

CAVUTO: All right.

WIEHL: Dani (ph).

CAVUTO: Well, do something.

(LAUGHTER) WIEHL: No play date for you.

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