Yesterday morning as I drove my son to school, I suddenly couldn't remember what time he actually had to be at the school! He gave me one time and his mother gave me another! When I arrived, I asked the vice-principal, who told me that he had to be at school no later than 7:45 a.m., so I was relieved that I was on time! And when I showed up to drop him off again today, I was greeted by members of the Calcasieu Parish Truancy Assesment And Service Center (TASC).  Oh, boy, I thought.

It was a false alarm, though. They were handing out cold bottles of water and flyers explaining all sorts of information about student absences, truancy and violation of the Louisiana Compulsory Attendance Law!

TASC was formed in 2001, and their purpose is to identify truancy problems in our schools and to solve them. Students with five or more unexcused absences, two out-of-school suspensions or excessive tardiness will be referred to the Office of Child Welfare and parents and students found to be in violation of the state's attendance laws could be referred to Truancy Court or the Juvenile Justice System and parents of these students may be fined up to $250 -- or imprisoned up to 30 days -- or even both!

It is important that every absence is documented at school with a note from the parents or the doctor for the reason for the students absence. Students in Calcasieu Parish cannot miss more than 10 days each school term in elementary grades, and students in Kindergarten through 8th grade must attend 167 days of the school year! And all children in Louisiana between 7 -18 must be enrolled in public or private schools.

The most important thing to remember is that in education, all of it matters! Sure, you could be the cool mom and let the kids skip a day or two, but is it really for the best? Ask yourself: Letting Billy skip Wednesday because he doesn't like Chili Dog Day, or because Sally doesn't like the coach who makes her run -- is that really going to help them in the future? What if Chili Dog Day was also the day the Billy had a science test he forgot to tell you about, or Sally had to run for part of her P.E. grade? And remember who is going to be taking care of the world when we are older ... then think again about Chili Dog Day!

Any questions you might have about absences or tardiness, you may contact the Calcasieu Parish Truancy Assessment and Service Center at (337) 721-3980 or at their office at 3615 E. Prien Lake Road in Lake Charles.

Remember kids, school is cool!