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Dozens of Manitowoc school kids receive a $439 truancy fine while being enrolled in virtual learning

Local News

MANITOWOC, Wis. (WFRV) One local school is under fire because parents say their kids received a large truancy fine while being enrolled in virtual learning.

Some Lincoln High School parents are upset because their kids received $439 truancy fines, despite being enrolled in virtual learning and despite parents’ complaints about malfunctioning Chromebooks.

Tracie Dekanich, a Lincoln High School parent says, “My son Mark, had Chromebook issues since October. I called the school numerous times told him that he was having issues with his Chromebook. I got notices over the phone automated and we got emails and text messages stating that my son was not in school or he wasn’t doing the virtual school, which I knew he was.”

Tracie’s not alone many other Lincoln High parents say they’ve had similar issues.

Debra Pratt, another Lincoln High School parent says, “I found that not only did my son have seven unexcused absences for some of the days that he had COVID. They also applied seven unexcused absences for each and every Friday when school was not scheduled.”

Marissa Hert, a Lincoln High School parent says, “They said that my son was absent for 28 days and it doesn’t make sense because he was submitting homework during this whole period.”

Dave Nickel, Manitowoc School Board President says, “There could be issues with the Chromebooks when we went into a virtual learning environment. It did change the way schooling was taking place and it did make it more challenging for some families and some students to use the technology.”

Lincoln High School parents say their 14 year-old-children signed $439 truancy citations without proper due process

Malfunctioning chrome books aside parents say why fine them during this pandemic when many parents have lost their jobs or had their hours cut.

Rob Johnson has kids that attend Lincoln High and says, “I’m at home all the time with the kids with unemployment and stuff like that and right now besides my unemployment, it’s just here working because of the pandemic and stuff.”

Nickel says, “The fact that it’s a pandemic and there are parents who have had income cut or lost their jobs that would certainly be a factor. Again if we have simply a technology issue, I think that’s a simple fix and I think we can work that out and we need to.”

Parents say what’s also alarming is their 14 year-old-children were made to sign for the $439 truancy citation without proper due process.

Johnson says, “The school was automatically implementing the city ordinance and automatically going to the $439 dollar fine without any first warning first offense or second offense. They automatically went to a habitual offender.”

Pratt questions, “What was submitted to support this citation and I have not received that information? It breaks my heart these poor kids should be in school.”

Dekanich says, “These kids should not be getting these fines at all. They need to take into consideration that this virtual is not helping them.”

Lincoln High School’s principal provided the following response:

Lincoln High School follows the Wisconsin State Statute as it relates to compulsory student attendance. We have a tiered system of interventions set up to support student success prior to a citation being issued. In addition, I think it is very important to note that the fine is waived for the student if they attend school.

Principal Lee Thennes, Lincoln High School

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