The Senate Education Committee has passed legislation sponsored by Senator Kevin O’Toole, R-Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic, for parents, school officials and authorities to instantly know when students may be missing, lost or abducted.
Senator O’Toole’s S-721, known as “Tabitha’s Law,” 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 parents having provided prior notice.
“This measure assures adults take immediate, personal responsibility for the children they must protect and care for,” O’Toole said. “Just a few seconds of accountability can be enough to save lives and solve abductions.”
Tabitha’s Law is named for a 13-year-old missingNashvillegirl who was absent for school in 2003. Parents, and in turn law enforcement, did not know Tabitha Tudor was missing that school day because school officials did not alert anyone. Authorities say as a result they lost an entire first day, which is critical to a search effort.
“The first few hours of child abductions are the most vital to the investigatory and recovery process,” O’Toole concluded. “In Tabitha’s name, New Jersey law enforcement officers will be notified the instant that care takers recognize a warning sign.”
Senator O’Toole first introduced this Tabitha’s Law in January 2006. A companion version was passed by the full Assembly in June. S-721 heads to the full Senate for consideration.