Jolene England, 15, spent 30 days in her modest brown ranch home saying she was too sick to go to class. The Gwinnett County, Ga., school system says she is a truant. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that in a dramatic enforcement of Georgia’s mandatory school attendance law, her parents, William and Betty England, were arrested and jailed for a night. The Englands, who say they have doctors’ excuses for most of their daughter’s time away from the classroom, face 23 misdemeanor counts, one for each unexcused absence.
Atlanta-area school systems regularly file cases against excessively truant students in Juvenile Court, but few actually also prosecute parents for the violation. “We have taken parents to court before and have had judges issue fines and warnings,” said Jay Dillon, a spokesman for Cobb County schools, but “we never actually had one prosecuted criminally.”
Atlanta Public Schools officials said the system has not prosecuted parents, either, “but our folks are having primary level talks with the police to see how parents could be held more accountable,” said Seth Coleman, school spokesman.