School Absences

Students in Georgia are being told to come to school or risk losing their car keys. The Peach State plans to get more kids back in the classroom. Playing hooky is a problem that's plagued high school educators relentlessly.

Bonnie Grooms, a Valdosta High School senior, says, "There's a lot of kids, seniors especially that will skip school and go eat lunch and everything, so there is a lot of skipping."

The state of Georgia is enforcing a new state law that targets students who skip class. Any student with 10 unexcused absences during a semester will risk losing their license.

Brett Stanton, Valdosta High Principal, says, "I think you've got to have some consequences that carry some weight and I think as I mentioned earlier driving is one of those things students really value."

In the past student who dropped out of school could still get their license with parental support. Under a new provision a parental signature or approval will not be enough to get their license back. They'll have to obtain their GED.

Bob Bolton, a Valdosta High teacher, says, "If you can't go to school, you don't need to be driving. It's that simple."

So, how effective will this punishment actually be with the students?

Grooms says, "You have to think about it. You can't miss too many days that are unexcused or you'll lose your license. It's a big deal."

According to the Education Commission of States, Georgia is now one of 22 states that have tied school performance into teens’ ability to hold drivers licenses.

The state Office of Student Achievement says 36 percent of Georgia's 1.5 million students missed more than six days during the 2002-2003 school year.