Published November 17, 2014
A Detroit prosecutor is getting tough on parents who skip out on parent teacher conferences, calling for legislation that would put parents in jail if they repeatedly miss their children's school conferences.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy wants parents to stew in jail for up to three days if they fail to attend at least one school conference per year. "It's time to find any means necessary to get parents involved," Worthy told the Detroit City Council on Tuesday.
Worthy has been campaigning for the law since July, when a 12-year-old boy shot and killed a 24-year-old woman, and his parents could not account for his whereabouts on the night of the murder. The boy was convicted in juvenile court and sentenced to a high-security juvenile lockup.
But the case persuaded Worthy that parents needed to be more accountable for their children. "I have seen that younger and younger children are committing more violent acts, and we need to look at different approaches," she said at the time.
Specifically, Worthy's plan would require parents to pick a time and day to attend a parent-teacher conference every year. Should the conference be missed, the school will send out a letter to set up another conference within 14 days. If the second scheduled conference is missed, parents would receive another letter, this one including sanctions -- which could include up to three days in jail.
The law would exclude parents of children who are excelling in school, and those with health concerns. "I am not interested in putting parents in jail if their children are high achievers," Worthy said.
Some remain skeptical, suggesting either community service or a fine rather than jail time. "The last thing many families in dire situations need is more punishment by the criminal justice community," said Kary Moss, executive director of the Michigan branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. Similar proposals in Kentucky and Texas have failed.
"Obviously they shouldn't be jailed, but it does say something about their parents for not being there. It's important to be there for your children and support them," one parent told myFoxDetroit.com.
Worthy told The Detroit News that she prefers a statewide law, but that it could start with a city or countywide ordinance.