The province’s education minister won’t say whether she will adopt tough new law changes to coral students back into the classroom.

Legally binding students to stay in school until the age of 18 and opening parents up to charges of neglect if they keep their children out of class were among the recommendations in a government report on absenteeism released Wednesday.

But Thursday, Marilyn More was staying mum on the report.

“I’m not going to comment on the individual recommendations. They were presented as sort of a comprehensive package,” she told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

“One of the reasons I’d like to delay any comment is because we’re consulting with the general public and parents and families and students and teachers.”

The consultation process runs until March 12, at which point More said she will be willing to comment.

She wouldn’t say whether any of the ideas could be enacted by the beginning of the next school year.

“I want to be careful any decisions we make don’t have unintended consequences,” she said. “So I have to make sure that we co-ordinate our action in a way that doesn’t impact negatively on students and some other initiatives already in place.”

The report was written by a committee chaired by Howard Windsor, who formally had acted as the one-man Halifax Regional School Board when it was temporarily disbanded in 2006
The report was completed in September and presented to More in late October. She said the delay in its public release was due to the complexity of the issues.

Other recommendations include investing in better attendance tracking systems, developing a communications strategy to explain to parents and students the importance of attending class, introducing more severe penalties for chronic absenteeism, and channelling extra funds into alternative programming for at-risk students.

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