A group of Logan County parents will be in front of a judge facing possible fines or even jail time for failing to comply with the Oklahoma Compulsory Education Act. In total, 10 people have been charged for not sending their children to school on a routine basis.
“I want to make sure that every parent out there knows they are responsible for the education of their children,” Assistant District Attorney Jack Bowyer said when talking about the education law during a town hall meeting.
Of the 10 cases filed on June 30, four children attend Coyle Public Schools and six attend Guthrie Public Schools. The district attorney’s office tells Guthrie News Page there are more cases expected to be filed.
According to Guthrie’s elementary handbook, it is the policy of the Guthrie Board of Education that a student is required to be in attendance a minimum of 90 percent of each semester. After the fifth and seventh unexcused absence during a semester a letter from the principal will be sent home. After the tenth unexcused absence the parent or guardian will be reported to the District Attorney for violation of truancy laws.
The Coyle Board of Education states that all students must be absent no more than twelve (12) days a semester in order to earn a passing grade in any subject.
In addition to school notices, the district attorney’s office also notifies the parent(s) with a warning notice.
Each child, listed in court papers (names redacted), is dependent on transportation to and from school. The children listed range from kindergarten to the sixth grade.
In an affidavit, a kindergarten student missed 33 days from the start of school up until April 7. In a letter from the school, the only contact with the parent was through voicemails.
A sixth grade student was listed being absent in part or the entire day for a total of 53 days out of the 91 possible school days. In addition, the student was tardy a total of 13 days.
A second grade student missed 13 days of school in the 2011-12 school year, 19.5 more days in 2012-13 and this past school year missed 23.5 days.
Other examples, include a third grader with 32 unexcused absences with 24 tardies and another third grader with 42 absences.
“If they can’t be responsible then perhaps Department of Human Services needs to be involved or law enforcement needs to be involved,” Bowyer said.
In almost each case, the school district expressed missing the excessive days had affected the students academically and were below grade level. Some went a step further and proposed retention may be in order.
Charges were filed against Amy Barnes, Rhonda Wilkey, Tracy Wiggins, April O’Hagan, Christina Harmeyer, Misty Givens, Ebony Petties, Precious Posey, Angala Malicoat and Georgejanne Frederick. All are set to be in court on July 31 at 10 a.m.