Charges filed against 19 parents of truant MCS students - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Charges filed against 19 parents of truant MCS students

By Lori Brown - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Criminal charges have been filed against 19 parents of students at eight Memphis schools who have been truant, Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons announced Tuesday.

Each of the 19 parents were charged with Violation of the Compulsory Attendance Act, a class C misdemeanor.

The defendants charged are parents of students who attend one of the eight middle schools that participate in the District Attorney's truancy reduction mentoring program. Under the program, students who miss five or more days at Chickasaw, Cypress, Hamilton, Hickory Ridge, Humes, Sherwood, Vance, and Westside Middle Schools are given the option to be paired with an adult mentor in lieu of prosecution for skipping school.

Officials said the parents charged did not respond to notices sent to them regarding their children's attendance. According to a press release, the parents were not arrested, but were issued misdemeanor citations. They have been booked and processed and are scheduled to appear before General Sessions Criminal Court Judge Loyce Lambert Ryan on November 30.

"Our goal is to get these students in school," Gibbons said in the release. "We have many children enrolled in our mentoring program, and it is making a difference in their lives. The children of the parents charged also deserve that chance. Unfortunately, charging the parents and bringing them to court was our only option."

At court, Gibbons said, the parents will again be offered the chance to enroll their children in the mentoring program, and prosecutors will ask that those parents who accept be placed on diversion as long as they attend parenting classes. Otherwise, prosecutors will pursue the charges against them.

Parents had mixed reactions about the District Attorney's crackdown. Sharisse Noble a mother of three teenagers thinks it's the right thing to do.

"Yeah, they should, they should go to jail," Noble said. "They need to do something about it, we got too many kids roaming the streets during school hours."

Cynthia Lenson on the other hand, at first thought it's the students who should be charged, not the parents.

"If you send your kids to school and you're trying to work, they can go in the front door, and out the back door," Lenson said.

After hearing the District Attorney did send out warning letters to parents, Lenson changed her mind. She said there are ways parents can check up on their kids.

"I visit the school, check their attendance, when I get their report card I check their attendance," Lenson said. "A child will tell you anything, they'll say my report card was incorrect, I double check on that."

DelJuan Folsom, the father of a 17 and 11-year-old still thinks it's unfair to charge parents who are working while their kids are in school.

"You can see kids walking around all during the day, where are the truancy officers?" Folsom said.

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