What Is Educational Neglect?

September 19, 2022
Moorestown DCPP Lawyers at The Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Fight for Parental Rights.
Moorestown DCPP Lawyers at The Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Fight for Parental Rights.

A child needs an education to become a functional adult who can not only get and maintain gainful employment, but also to navigate the world around them, independently. Parents are influential in making it possible for a child to take an interest in getting an education. They are also responsible for aiding and facilitating a child’s education as they grow up.

Sometimes, parents do not take an interest in their child’s education. Worse, some might influence a child to not want an education. When one or more parents neglect to support and encourage a child’s education, educational neglect could occur.

A lack of an education negatively impacts a child’s future ability to enter the workforce, earn money, and ultimately thrive. A lack of an education also is a common contributor to criminal activity and results in many uneducated individuals eventually becoming incarcerated criminals.

Obviously, an education is very important for children to attain. When it does not happen, educational neglect by one or both parents might be the cause.

Family Law Defines Educational Neglect

Family law in New Jersey and other states identify educational neglect as one or more parents or legal guardians failure to provide for a child’s basic needs to get an education. Those needs include enrolling the child in an approved school, providing home schooling, or enabling the child to obtain special education services.

By providing or refusing rides to school, help at home, and meeting basic needs, parents control when and how their children obtain an education. When parents neglect to do so, educational neglect might spur legal activity. That legal activity can include enforcement of state laws requiring children to be educated and their parents to actively enable their children to do so.

New Jersey’s compulsory education law requires any child who is between ages of six and 16 to attend a public, private, or residential school program. Parents also can homeschool their children and comply with New Jersey law.

No Neglect if the Child Willfully Refuses an Education

An old adage says, ‘you can lead a horse to water but cannot make it drink.’ Sadly, that is the case with your child’s education. You can do your very best to enable and support your child in getting a good education. Yet, your child might refuse to participate.

A child’s willful dismissal of true educational opportunities does not make you guilty of educational negligence. Sometimes, children have bad influences in their personal lives, or other reasons for skipping school or contributing to their resistance to getting an education.

As long as you register your child for school and provide the tools to get an education, you have fulfilled your duty as a parent in New Jersey.

A mental health therapist might help a troubled child to overcome such behavior. A parent who seeks such services for a child is demonstrating strong support for that child getting an education.

Educational Neglect Qualifies as Child Abuse

When a parent willfully disregards New Jersey law and does not enroll one or more children in school, that parent is committing educational neglect. Educational neglect is considered a type of child abuse in New Jersey and many other states and might occur for many reasons.

Many times, a parent who commits educational neglect might commit other types of child abuse. Overworking a child or forcing a child to work instead of going to school might be the primary reason. Maybe the parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol and is wholly neglectful.

Whatever the cause might be, it always adds up to child abuse. A child might have both parents committing educational neglect or only one. No matter the cause, educational neglect is a serious matter.

Educational Neglect Could Be Grounds for Modifying a Child Custody Order

A divorce might grant primary custody of a child to one parent, who then neglects to ensure that child is enrolled in school. Educational neglect might even occur without the other parent knowing.

The divorcing parent might be very busy with work and not see the child enough to know that educational neglect is occurring. That parent might also try to enroll the child and motivate the parent with custody to do a better job of parenting.

If such efforts prove fruitless, an attorney might help to file a petition to modify the parental custody agreement. Modifying a custody order might help to get the child enrolled in and attending school.

Possible Defenses Against Educational Neglect Accusations

You might find yourself accused of educational neglect despite your best efforts to enroll your child and ensure their school attendance and participation. Maybe a former spouse made the allegation. Maybe a school administrator reported your child as missing school in violation of state law.

No matter how it happens, the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) has the duty of investigating claims of potential educational neglect. Depending on the circumstances and what the investigation might reveal, the state might remove the child from your home if officials have reasonable suspicion and evidence of child abuse occurring.

If you are accused of educational abuse, an experienced Moorestown DCPP lawyer can help you to present a viable defense. Your defense might rest on your efforts to enroll your child in school and providing evidence that you have done so.

If your child is skipping school and willfully disregarding your efforts to encourage school participation, that would serve as a legal defense against an accusation of educational neglect.

Other defenses might include suffering a recent medical issue that incapacitated you for a period of time or working during school hours and not knowing your child is skipping school.

Your DCPP attorney can help you to present the best possible defense and provide supporting evidence.

Moorestown DCPP Lawyers at The Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Fight for Parental Rights

Help is available if you are accused of educational neglect or if your current or former spouse is neglecting your child’s education. You can reach the experienced Moorestown DCPP lawyers at The Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker by calling 856-210-9776 or contacting us online to schedule an initial consultation at our law office in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. We represent clients in Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Voorhees, South Jersey, and throughout the state.

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