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39 Truancy Summonses Issued

Thursday July 23, 2009

In response to complaints signed by Jefferson County Public Schools, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell has requested 39 summonses for parents of habitually truant elementary-aged students. These parents are charged with Unlawful Transaction with a Minor in the 3rd Degree, a Class A Misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and/or a $500 fine (KRS 530.070).

School officials initially identified 468 students, and in January 2009 County Attorney O’Connell sent letters warning of possible legal action to each student’s parents or guardians. Of that group, the attendance of approximately 88%, or 413 students, improved to four or fewer unexcused absences.

Prosecutors and school officials have studied each of the 55 remaining cases to identify those in which the resources of the JCPS Truancy Reduction Program, Family Court, and the Cabinet for Children & Families have been exhausted without improving the students’ attendance. Thirty-nine of these cases were selected for prosecution.

“This is the ninth year for the Truancy Prosecution program,” said O’Connell. “Its true success is the emphasis on regular school attendance. If you do not send your elementary child to school, there will be legal consequences.”

The truancy prosecutions are a component of JCPS’s Truancy Prevention Program. Kentucky law considers a student habitually truant after 6 unexcused absences in a school year. Unexcused absences among students whose parents are charged range from 15 to 52.8 days for the 175-day 2008-2009 school year.

Since the program began in 2001, 133 parents have been successfully prosecuted.