Parents forced to court after students skip class

By Ben Watson - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A group of Memphis parents were forced to appear in court Thursday because their children have been missing class.  It was all part of District Attorney Bill Gibbons' crackdown on students skipping school.

In court, some parents showed up not knowing what to expect.

Parents like Ranell Bailey fought back tears as they found out the hard way there are consequences when their children skip school.

"I don't know, I feel its unfair," Bailey said.

Bailey and the parents of 25 other students are just the latest to be singled out by the District Attorney's Truancy Reduction and Mentoring Program.

"We hope that at the end of the day the message is clear: if your child skips school, then you will be held accountable for that, and it's incumbent for the parents to insure that they go," said Harold Collins of the D.A.'s office.

According to Collins, long before the parents were summoned to court, they received numerous notices telling them their child has five more unexcused absences this school year.

"We have to remember, before we get to this point, a letter is sent to every parent, given to every child at the school, saying,'You must meet with the District Attorney's office at school at a specific time'," Collins said.

Parents who ignored the letters were summoned to court on misdemeanor charges.  They were also fingerprinted and photographed before they were let go.

Parents who wanted to were allowed to avoid prosecution by agreeing to participate in a program that offers mentoring to the students who have been truant, along parenting classes for their moms and dads.

Officials said one parent did not show up to court.  There is now a warrant for her arrest.

Meanwhile, two suspects are contesting their charges, cases were dismissed against seven parents, eight parents still need to be served, and 11 parents agreed to enroll their children in the truancy reduction mentoring program.

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