Bill: Fewer consequences for smart Utah school truants
Published: March 5, 2014 07:41PM
Updated: March 5, 2014 10:04PM

A House committee on Wednesday endorsed a bill that lightens the consequences for students with good grades who skip school.

The House Education Committee, by a vote of 11-2, advanced HB399 to the full House.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, would mean truants who are at least 16 and have 3.5 or higher grade point averages could not be taken to juvenile court.

That’s the last resort for a school, after it sends letters to the student’s home, trying to encourage attendance.

Schools could still enforce their own consequences, such as not letting students with poor attendance graduate, Gibson said.

If a student has a 3.5 GPA, “They’re mastering the content. They know what’s going on,” Gibson said.

Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, and Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, opposed changing the rules.

Even good kids or smart kids can get in trouble if they’re not in school, Poulson said.

Nielson said he didn’t think it wise to change the rules for kids who get good grades. “I don’t think it helps our kids to avoid consequences.”

kmoulton@sltrib.com