Mother upset with school over son's unexcused absence for safety reasons

EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) - An El Cajon mom took no chances after rumors of threats at her son's school, but when she called to say he'd be staying home, she was told he'd be marked truant.

Montgomery Middle School emailed a letter to parents Thursday morning that pointed to a lack of any concrete evidence of a threat, but Kelly Green was not convinced.

She chose to keep her son Braeden home from school on Friday, but she said the school told her safety concerns were not an excuse for the boy to miss class.

“They told me that if I did, he would be marked truant,” Green told 10News.

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But Green thinks it's the right thing to do, given rumors about possible threats.

“For me to actually receive an email stating that, I take that a little bit more seriously,” she said. “[I] never [received] a letter until now, never.”

Braeden is her only son, so she admits she's overprotective.

“As a parent and a single mom, that's my main concern is his safety,” said Green.

Given the situation, she thinks it should count as an excused absence, but the Cajon Valley Union School District says they’re just following the state rules, and Braeden be marked as unexcused.

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“It is based on California Ed Code,” said Cajon Valley Union School District Asst. Superintendent Karen Minshew. “Attendance is important, and it's the major way we get funding in schools.”

The district feels strongly that school is the safest place for children.

“We have like a 1-to-30 ratio. We're listening to students. We work with El Cajon police,” Minshew added.

Minshew said it would take multiple unexcused absences before it becomes a truancy, but Green argues that's missing the point.

“I think it's more principle for me,” Green said. “I'd rather them lose money than I lose my son.”

Now, she wants the rules to change.

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“We shouldn't be punished for keeping them at home for their safety,” said Green.

There are 10 reasons that qualify as excused absences in California, including illness, medical appointments and court dates. Green said some of her son's friends are also staying home.

In the long run, the district says grades weigh much more than attendance, but the district does offer a free Saturday school once a month where students can make up an absence.

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