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Education Law

A Dozen Baltimore School Parents Sentenced to Jail for Truant Kids

Posted Apr 25, 2011 11:45 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A dozen parents of Baltimore school students were sentenced to jail this year because their minor children missed excessive amounts of school.

One of the parents was Barbara Gaskins, who served 10 days in jail on five consecutive weekends, the Baltimore Sun reports. Her son missed 103 out of 130 school days.

Gaskins told the newspaper she took her son to his bus stop every morning and she got as many doctor’s excuses as she could when the youth was suffering from a stomach virus.

Jonathan Brice, who oversees Baltimore’s Office of Truancy, told the Sun that filing charges is a last resort. "But it's critical that we get those parents' and young people's attention about the seriousness of being in school."

The school told more than 400 parents to report to court based on unexcused absences of 15 days or more. About 14 percent of the truants do better after charges are filed, and about 43 percent improve after a parent’s first court appearance.

Fareed Nassor Hayat, a lawyer and former teacher, disagrees with the tactic. "I have a moral issue with how they're criminalizing parents who aren't really criminals at all—and it doesn't even fix the problem," he told the Sun.

Hat tip to Pat’s Papers.

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