County Attorney Issues 51 Truancy Summonses
Wednesday May 24, 2006
In response to complaints signed by Jefferson County Public Schools, Jefferson County Attorney Irv Maze has requested 51 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 372 students, and in January 2006 County Attorney Maze sent letters warning of possible legal action to each student’s parents or guardians. Of that group, the attendance of approximately 80%, or 296 students, improved to four or fewer unexcused absences.
Prosecutors and school officials have studied each of the 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.
“The success of this program is in the numbers,” said Superintendent Daeschner. “We are sending a very clear message to parents that it is their responsibility to ensure that their child has regular school attendance. We simply cannot educate students if they are not in school.”
“This is the sixth year for the Truancy program,” said Maze. “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.”
Jefferson County Sheriff John Aubrey’s deputies are serving the 51 summonses.
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 the 51 students whose parents are charged range from 16 to 73 days for the 2005-2006 school year. Since the program began in 2001, 59 parents have been successfully prosecuted.