Gibbons hopes truancy charges serve as a wake-up call - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Gibbons hopes truancy charges serve as a wake-up call

By Jamel Major - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Shelby County District Attorney General went on the record Wednesday about nearly two dozen parents that were criminally charged this week because their children have skipped too much school.

Attorney General Bill Gibbons said he hopes the criminal charges filed against 19 parents of children in Memphis City Schools serve as a wake-up call.

"The only way we knew to do it was to proceed with prosecuting them for failing to get their kids to go to school," he said.

Gibbons said the parents are all charged with violation of the Compulsory Attendance Act. They were not arrested, but they were issued misdemeanor citations.

"It is a crime for a parent to fail to get his or her children to school under our state law," he said.

Gibbons' office sent warning letters to parents whose children missed more than five days of school without an excuse.

"We know that truancy is the gateway to serious problems," Gibbons said. "On a school day, roughly 25 percent of all juvenile crime occurs during school hours and off school campus.  So if we can make a dent in truancy, we can make a dent in juvenile crimes."

Gibbons said the parents charged did not reply to notices sent to them regarding their children's absences.

"Frankly, what we want to do right now is get these parents into court, offer a mentoring program to their children, ask the judge to require the parents to attend parenting classes, and see if we can resolve it that way," he said.

The parents are all scheduled to appear in General Sessions Criminal Court on Monday.

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly