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Your Kid Missed School? Here’s Your Felony

Sometime last year while I was at work, I was reading through the local paper.  That’s a practice that I have developed over the past few years. It has helped me on a number of occasions as I’ve learned about pending lawsuits involving clients and eye-witness accounts of allegations involving other clients. It also gives me the pulse of the town and the direction it is headed—especially when the stories involve the local prosecutor.

While I was reading through the paper I ran across an article about a father who was being charged with a Class D felony. His charge stemmed from his failure to ensure that his child attended enough school that year. The prosecutor in the town told the newspaper reporter that he wanted to emphasize the importance of children attending school so he was going to pursue those parents who he believed weren’t having their kids attend school enough.

The parent who was charged with the Class D felony had allowed his child to miss a whopping 12 days of school throughout the school year. I don’t know why the child missed 12 days of school. I just knew I panicked a bit. Here was a prosecutor willing to pursue felony charges, not misdemeanor charges, against parents. Felony charges can have serious consequences that could result in losing the right to vote among other things.

This parent was fighting felony charges for his kid essentially missing less than 2.5 weeks of school throughout an entire school year. By the time I read the article, Addie had already missed about 8 days of school, all for various reasons. Some of the days were missed from the lice plague that had been circling. Some of the days were missed while Addie was in Utah for a family event. And other days were missed because Addie was sick at home with the stomach flu. My kid was more than half of the way to the point where we could be charged with felonies.

I don’t know how that case turned out.  Several of these cases where the prosecutor has decided to take a sudden stance on things like missing school haven’t ended up with convictions. But ever since I’ve always feared that felony charges are on their way every time Addie is absent.

This year Addie has missed two or three days from the stomach flu. One of those days Addie insisted on going to school and later that day the school called to have us pick her up because she had thrown up in the middle of class. The Disney cruise caused her to miss another 5 days as she had the time of her life in the Caribbean.

We could have had Addie stay home that week instead of going on the cruise. She didn’t have to go on the cruise. She could have stayed and learned all the things her classmates learned while in school. I could have taken the day off work to celebrate her birthday with her. Part of me wanted to go that route, and not just the part of me that wants to avoid felony charges.

I went 7 years when I was a kid without missing a single day of school. I was taught that going to school consistently was important, and I want Addie to have that same attitude. Casey is the opposite. She doesn’t see the need of going to school if there are other important and unique things going on outside school. We’ve had a few battles about it in the past and we’ve developed a nice happy medium.

Hopefully that happy medium doesn’t result in felony charges in the future.

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