Assembly OK’s ‘Tabitha’s Law’ Requiring Parents To Notify School Of A Child’s Absence

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TRENTON – Bipartisan legislation sponsored by assemblymen Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. and Scott T. Rumana to require parents to notify a school if a child will be absent, and in turn require schools to notify parents if a student fails to attend – an idea stemming from the disappearance of a Nashville teen – was approved 75-0-2 Thursday by the Assembly.

“It’s well known that the first few hours of a child’s abduction are the most vital to the recovery process,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “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-1902) 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 bill will be referred to the Senate for further consideration.

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