TRENTON — The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved legislation Monday that would help parents, school officials and authorities to instantly know when students may be missing, lost or abducted.
“Tabitha’s Law” (S-721) requires 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 parents having provided prior notice.
Tabitha’s Law is named for a 13-year-old missing Nashville girl who was absent for school in 2003. Parents, and in turn law enforcement, did not know Tabitha Tudor was missing that school day because school officials did not alert anyone. Authorities say as a result they lost an entire first day, which is critical to a search effort.
“The first few hours of child abductions are the most vital to the investigatory and recovery process,” said state Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Bergen), a sponsor of the bill. “In Tabitha’s name, New Jersey law enforcement officers will be notified the instant that care takers recognize a warning sign.”
“Our hearts go out to the family of Tabitha Tudor who to this day still has not received complete closure, ” said Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex), a sponsor of the Assembly version of the bill, which received full Assembly approval in June.
S-721 heads to the full Senate for consideration.
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