Proposed Law Would Require Parents To Notify School Of Child’s Absence

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TRENTON – Earlier today, an Assembly panel approved “Tabitha’s Law,” legislation which would require parents to notify a school if a child will be absent, a move inspired by the disappearance of a Nashville teen.

“It’s well known that the first few hours of a child’s abduction are the most vital to the recovery process,” said Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex), a sponsor of the bill. “Tabitha’s Law is meant to provide families and law enforcement with an early warning trigger during that critical time. Our hearts go out to the family of Tabitha Tudor who, to this day, still has not received complete closure.”

The bill (A-416) would require parents to notify school administrators whenever their child will be absent from school, and requires administrators to contact parents whenever a pupil is absent without the parent’s having provided prior notice.

On the morning of April 29, 2003, 13-year-old Nashville, Tennessee student, Tabitha Tudor, did not show up for school. Although school administrators had received no notification from Tabitha’s parents that she would be absent that day, the school failed to alert the Tudors of their daughter’s unexplained absence. As a result, her parents did not learn that Tabitha was missing until after her father arrived home at 4:45 p.m. Due to the delay, law enforcement officials and Tabitha’s parents lost an entire day before their search could begin. Tabitha is still missing.

The measure was unanimously approved by the Assembly Education Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.


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