Skip School, Lose Your License - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/23/05

Skip School, Lose Your License

Tougher state laws may make it harder for students to get around if they don't go to school. It's all in an effort to curb truancy. The state hopes the threat of taking away one of the things teens love the most--driving--will compel them to show up for school.

They broke the news to students today during a special assembly at Johnson High in Savannah. Starting this year, if high school students 14 and older have more than ten unexcused absences during the school year, they may be unable to get a driving permit, or their driver's licenses may be revoked for a certain period of time or completely taken away.

"Anything that will help keep our students in school will be a good plan," said Johnson High School principal Derrick Muhammad. "We want everyone to be here. They can't learn if they're not here."

The new law is just one of the many efforts to improve education in the state. "One of the ways you do that is by keeping kids in school," said Georgia Rep. Tom Bordeaux (R-Savannah). "You keep kids in school, they graduate, they get better jobs, they do better in life." 

Educators say the only way to help their students succeed is to raise students' test scores, even if it means putting the brakes on their driving privileges.

"With No Child Left Behind and AYP, that is one of our criteria, school attendance, especially on test days," said Muhammad. "I think this will continue to help us keep our students here at school."

But the new rules aren't sitting well with some students.

"I don't like it, it's crazy," said student Brian Buchanan. "Sixteen years or older...if you're 18, you can do whatever you want, you're legal, you can do whatever you want, it's not right."

"It's not for them to like," said Principal Muhammad. "They'll just have to follow through with it."

And many feel taking the keys away will keep kids in class. "Everyone is going to want their cars," noted student Myeshia Myers. "I feel like they will come to school so they can drive. On weekends and stuff, if you don't have your car, what are you going to do? Stay home?" 

The new truancy law also holds students and their parents more accountable. If you violate the truancy law, you will be guilty of a misdemeanor and could be fined.

Reported by: Melanie Ruberti, mruberti@wtoc.com

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