Harris expresses regret over consequences of truancy law she championed as California AG

Harris expresses regret over consequences of truancy law she championed as California AG
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Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisLive coverage: California voters to decide Newsom's fate Florida woman faces five years in prison for threatening to kill Harris Australia's COVID overreaction could come to US MORE (D-Calif.) expressed regret for some consequences of a state truancy law she championed as San Francisco district attorney in a Pod Save America interview Tuesday.


The law, which made it a crime for parents to allow children to miss too many consecutive days of school, resulted in the arrest and jailing of some parents, which Harris hastened to add did not occur on her watch. As district attorney, Harris’s office brought charges against 20 parents under the law in 2009.

Asked by host and former Obama staffer Jon Favreau if she would support a similar law as president, Harris said she would not and said the truancy law had “unintended consequences, to be frank.”

“When I was [San Francisco] DA, we never sent a parent to jail," she said. 

"We ended up increasing attendance by over 30 percent, because we actually required the system then to kick in and do the services that they were required to do and sometimes had available but they weren’t doing the outreach with these parents. And so that was the whole purpose,” Harris said. 

Harris drew a distinction between occasionally missing a day of school and “chronic truancy,” or missing at least 10 percent of the school year, but expressed concerns that jailing parents could exacerbate the same social problems the policy was meant to combat.

“I wanted to avoid a situation where those children end up being criminalized ... because we failed them in the earliest stages,” she said.

“My regret is that I have now heard stories where in some jurisdictions, DAs have criminalized the parents. And I regret that that has happened and the thought that anything that I did could have led to that, because that certainly was not the intention, never was the intention,” she said.

Updated 3:22 p.m.