(RepublicanPress.org) – Missouri law states that all children between the age of seven and 17 must attend some type of schooling with few exceptions. Although children between the ages of five and seven aren’t required by the state to attend school, if parents sign them up, they must attend regularly. Recently, two parents were thrown in jail because their children missed too many days during the 2021/2022 school year.
On August 16, the Daily Mail reported that Tamarae LaRue and Caitlyn Williams spent some time behind bars in 2022 because their six and seven-year-old kids missed 15 and 16 days during one school year, respectively. They appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, which ruled against them, upholding the original verdict.
The Missouri Supreme Court upheld a state law requiring school attendance after two Lebanon, Missouri, parents were sentenced to jail following excessive absences by their children. https://t.co/rok3TItVXk
— WTNH News 8 (@WTNH) August 17, 2023
The court wrote that the absences were “not excused” according to the law. The justices also rejected the arguments made on behalf of the parents: that the moms knowingly violated the statute and the prosecution didn’t prove the attendance was less than “regular.” Apparently, Missouri follows a 90% mandatory attendance rate, but the statute does not mention that percentage, leaving discretion to the courts.
Although the court refused to define exactly what regular attendance means, Justice Robin Ransom said Missouri parents know that “on a regular basis” means sending kids to school on school days. According to the news outlet, the assistant principal offered assistance to the moms to remedy the situation and repeatedly warned them about consequences if their children continued to miss school.
LaRue’s sentence was 15 days in jail, but that was changed to two years probation. Williams received seven days. The Daily Mail reported that Ms. LaRue started having panic attacks because she felt singled out. According to her, nearly 25% of school-aged kids had under 90% attendance that year. Since the Supreme Court upheld the conviction and left the law untouched, more parents might see the inside of a jail cell going forward.
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