Juvenile's Truancy Not Willful but Product of Bullying | Speaker Law
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Juvenile's Truancy Not Willful but Product of Bullying

Posted on Monday, May 14, 2018

On April 15, 2014, in a published decision, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that absences attributable to fear of bullying were not “willful” absences under MCL 712A.2(a)(4). In People v. Napieraj (Docket No. 314305), the respondent, a minor, was found guilty of school truancy after he was absent from school a number of times. But the Court of Appeals reversed the decision, finding that the evidence indicated that the respondent’s absences were not willful. Both the respondent’s mother and the petitioner school had indicated that many of the respondent’s absences were attributable to illness and bullying, and the school’s attendance record indicated that the absences were excused based on calls made by the mother. The Court of Appeals held that the school could not require the mother to present them with a doctor’s note. Rather, the mother could exercise reasonable parental discretion, and the absences should have been excused upon her request. The Court of Appeals further noted that the referee should have discussed the willfulness element in the decision below and that the referee erred in failing to consider the individual facts of the respondent’s case.

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