TRENTON – The tragedy of a missing school child in Tennessee led to a bill being released today in the Assembly Education Committee 9-0.
Sponsor Assemblyman Scott Rumana, (R-40), Wayne told the story of 13-year-old Tabitha Tudor, who on the morning of April 29, 2003, did not show up for school in Nashville.
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.
Rumana explained that the emotional turmoil involved for parents is unimaginable in such cases.
The bill, A416, requires 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. The first few hours of a child abduction are the most vital to the recovery process. Tabitha’s Law is intended to help provide an early warning trigger during that critical time.
Committee member Joan Voss expressed the disbelief that this is not being done already.