Miss School and Go to Jail …or Worse

By Jean A. Flanagan
Moorefield Examiner –

The 7th grader sat in a chair two times too big for her. Her parents sat behind her and a lawyer sat to her right. They had come to Judge Charles Parson’s court because the 7th grader had missed 13 days of school. She was a truant in the eyes of the law.

Parsons gave the student some options. If she complied with a one-year probationary program, the case would be dismissed. If she didn’t, there are other, less attractive options.

“You could become custody of the state,” Parsons said. “Would you like that?”

The student sheepishly shook her head, no.

“Your parents could be fined,” he said. “Would you like that?”

Again, the student shook her head, no.

“Your parents could be sent to jail,” he said. “Would you like that?”

Another head shake, no.

“Or I could order your parents to go to school with you, to make sure you go to school,” he said. “Would you like that?”

The student’s eyes expressed her shock. This time the response was verbal. “Oh, no, your honor,” she said.

Laws concerning truancy in West Virginia have gotten more strict in the last two years. The reason is a concerted effort to reduce the high school dropout rate and to provide businesses in West Virginia with a dependable work force.

In years past, the principal sent a letter home when a student had five days of unexcused absences. After 10 days of unexcused absences, a legal notice from the attendance director was sent home…

Miss School and Go to Jail ...or Worse
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