18-year-olds in High School

A colleague at work has an 18-year-old daughter who is finishing her senior year in high school. Said daugher lives with her boyfriend.

Whenever this daughter is late for school, is absent, gets in trouble, etc., the school calls my colleague. My colleague is rather frustrated by this; she maintains that since her daughter is legally an adult, and since she doesn’t even live in her home, the daughter is not accountable to her mom for her actions, and the school shouldn’t be calling her.

My colleague notified her daughter’s school guidance counselor about her position, and the guidance counselor used the words “school policy” and considered the matter closed.

What’s your take on this? I side with my colleague, FTR.

I generally lean towards taking everything on a case-by-case basis, but the school’s policy makes sense from a pragmatic point of view. Most seniors in high school are 18 or will be 18 by the end of the school year. Imagine the headache if every parent had a different policy regarding notification.

Even if a parent explicitly requests not to be notified, imagine the legal bind a school could find itself in if they discovered something troubling and kept it secret. Maybe a parent doesn’t care if their kid has gotten into detention, but would seriously freak out if they knew their kid was showing signs of mental illness or drug abuse.

I side with your colleague as well, but there’s probably not a lot that can be done. She could try changing “her” number in their system to be her daughter’s number, but if this has been an ongoing point of contention, that might not actually work.

Changing her phone number is probably not worth it for the remaining half a year.

When I was in high school at 18 (although still living at home), I brought a note in from my mother acknowledging that I was responsible for my own schooling. This was required by school policy to let me write excuse notes for myself, a power that I didn’t abuse too badly.

I feel that if they are old enough to vote, they are old enough to face the consequences on their own from the school. The school should talk to the ADULT about that situation. And that ADULT is the student.

I’m assuming the colleague is at the “washed her hands of her” level of tough love if she doesn’t care about when her daughter gets in trouble at school?

If the girl hasn’t done anything truly wrong otherwise - beyond shacking up with a boyfriend which the mother may not approve of - then I find it far more sad.

On reply - the school may think that the mother still may care about her daughter’s progress, and I assume that’s why she’s getting the calls. I also assume that the school is directly dealing with the daughter on these issues too. These may not be accurate assumptions.

Well, she’s still the emergency contact, right? That shouldn’t ever change. Missing school could potentially be justified to fall into that category.

Interesting. At my high school, once we hit 18, they no longer contacted the parents for absences or tardiness. Heck, if I had a doctor’s appointment, I could even write my own note, which they just needed to ensure there was a paper trail.

If I had too many absences, I could fail the academic year, but they weren’t calling my parents to let them know that I’d skipped out on history class.

Or that the girl is totally responsible and competent. My mother had nothing to do with any of us kids (in this respect) when we turned 18. Not because she’d washed her hands of us, but because we didn’t need her help anymore.

I didn’t turn 18 until after I graduated high school, but I guess that I just couldn’t see how that magic date passing would suddenly flip a switch in my mom’s behavior or attitude about my high school work - then again, I also hadn’t moved out of the house during my high school period. Not that she ever got any of those calls, mind you, because I was disgustingly well-behaved. Probably my experience is coloring my view here.

I agree that it’s probably a good idea to not have different policies for different students. Certain parents may suddenly decide to care about one thing and flip out at the school, not to mention the difficulty of keeping things straight.

Here’s a bit more sort of related info that may be of interest to the thread.

In the province of Ontario you are legally an adult at 18 under the Age of Majority and Accountability Act, BUT you can legally leave home and withdraw from your parent’s control at the age of 16 and if you have withdrawn from parental control, you have the right to appeal and deal with school related decisions.

The Ontario government also has a Student Welfare program, so that if you had to leave home due to domestic abuse, are not married, and you stay in school you are entitled to social assistance so you can live on your own.

In my early 20s, I spent about half a year escorting one of my cousin’s friends to school every day before I went to work. Her father was abusive and had tried to kill her. She moved out at 16, he showed up on her door with a machete when she was 17 (I think in a previous thread I said she’d moved out at 17, but I was mistaken, 17 is when he tried to kill her.)

“Jane” was on student welfare and had legally withdrawn from her parents’ control. Given her father tried to kill her, the school was forbidden from contacting her parents (because they were stupid and that’s how her father learned of her new address to go to kill her). But the school was dickish about it until a cop showed up to talk to them.

This is something that always bothered me, too. When my kids were 18 and in high school, I still had to write notes to the school for absences, to get them out of class for appointments, etc. I was so happy that they could finally go to the doctor for treatment without my permission, only to find they still needed my permission to get out of school! It seems to me they should be able to show the powers-that-be their ID proving they are adults, and then be treated like adults and write their own notes. Yes, I care about how they are doing in school, but at their age, they should care more.

When I was 18, it was also school policy to have the parents sign all the school-related documents.

So, I had to keep on faking my mother’s signature.

Yeah, I know that happened a lot when my kids were in high school. As a matter of fact, I never approved any of my son’s schedules after his first semester as a freshman. He still managed to graduate and get into college.

I guess I should have made him write his own notes to go to the doctor.

Not as bad a bind as if they violated confidentiality laws. Here in Quebec at least, a school official that said anything at all to a parent of an 18 year old (including giving out marks, especially giving out marks) would be in trouble.

The policy at the school district I taught at was that if a student was over 18 but lived at home with parents, the parents were required to sign out the students and excuse absences and stuff. If the student was 18 and lived on his own, he was responsible for himself and the school acknowledged such.

I mostly agree, and at 18 you are a legal adult. But let’s face it, at 18 you’re still mentally and emotionally a kid. And you’re in high school. So I can’t get too worked up over the school’s policy of notifying the parent anyway. But if she’s actually living in a separate residence, they shouldn’t be calling.


The school has to be double-cross-your-heart-sure that the kid is on their own, though. (some sort of paperwork.)

What the mother want’s or cares is irrelevant. Since the daughter is 18 and not even living with her mother the school has no more right to contact her than they do to contact a random stranger out of the phone book.

I never had to have my parents sign off on any of my course selections. Not even for freshman year (selections I made in 8th grade). I was also able to at 17 (& still at home) change my name in school records as well without their involvement. Looking backward it’s seems kinda bizarre that I was able to do stuff like that.

Same. I graduated in 1988.

At eighteen I went back to high school after dropping out about two years before. Specifically I went to a transitional school designed to help people who had either dropped out or needed extra credits/better grades to get into college. They also offered some college level classes in agreement with a couple of colleges, but it was essentially a high school in format, classwork and scheduling.

I was able to get some student aid/bursaries which helped to pay my rent, and my parents only knew what I told them of my grades. My teachers called me when I missed school and asked why, if I needed extra help or what-have-you. Talking to some of my friends, when they turned eighteen before graduation it was much the same.

This was in 2000.