Monday, June 18, 2012
Assembly Panel OK’s Diegnan’s ‘Tabitha’s Law’ Requiring Parents to Notify School of a Child’s Absence
Measure Inspired by Nashville Teen’s Disappearance is Designed to Help Law Enforcement in the Event of a Missing Child
(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday advanced legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. 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 tragic disappearance of a Nashville teen.
“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 measure was unanimously approved by the Assembly Education Committee, chaired by Diegnan.