(Washington, DC) Robert J. Spagnoletti, the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, announced today that his office, in collaboration with DC Public Schools, will monitor attendance and immunization rates for public school students as the new school year begins on August 28, 2006. Without updated immunizations, students will not be able to register in time to start the new school year, and a delay could mean criminal charges for parents or guardians.
The Compulsory School Attendance law requires parents, guardians and caretakers who reside in the District, whether permanently or temporarily, to enroll children between the ages of 5 and 17 in school. The law applies to all District children who will turn age 5 on or before December 31, 2006. Enrolling children, however, is not alone sufficient to comply with the law. Parents, guardians and caretakers can be criminally prosecuted if they fail to ensure that children under their custody or control are regularly attending school.
General Spagnoletti says parents and guardians should be mindful of the law. "The goal is to make sure kids get off to a healthy start for the new school year by starting school on time, and attending class on a regular basis," said General Spagnoletti. "But those who refuse to get their kids immunized will face criminal sanctions."
Over 200 cases against parents were brought under the Compulsory School Attendance laws during the 2005-2006 school year. Most of these cases involved children under the age of ten. During the last school year, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) filed criminal charges against 67 parents who failed to immunize their children in time to begin school. The OAG, DC Public Schools, and the Superior Court arranged for health officials to be on site in Superior Court on day the parents were arraigned to provide immunizations. Eligible parents were offered deferred sentencing to avoid jail time once their kids were immunized.
For more information on school enrollment and immunization clinics, select the websites below: