They didn’t turn in their work for remote school. Their parents were threatened with court and fines

After their kids experienced tech glitches or turned off cameras during online learning, these families were accused of truancy and received legal threats.

Hayden, 12, had been having panic attacks about school even before a letter arrived at his home last month, threatening legal action for his alleged absences from distance learning.

The sixth-grader has been attending online class from his home outside Austin, Texas, since August, and having difficulties adjusting. When his grades dropped, he started having intense bouts of anxiety, working himself up until he cried so hard he could barely catch his breath. He wailed that he hated himself and wished he could do better in school.

When the letter arrived from Round Rock School District in November, saying that legal charges punishable by fines or court action could be brought against his mother for his absences, Hayden spiraled into a dayslong episode, says his mother Holly Barentine. He started crying even before they finished reading the letter, disclosing fears about worst-case scenarios that he would fail his classes. When he went to stay the night at his dad’s house, the crying continued. His father emailed Barentine, expressing concern for their son’s well-being.

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