YREKA, Calif. — Two parents of several students (from two different families) at Yreka Elementary School were arrested Friday morning for failing to get their children to school, according to a statement from the Siskiyou County Probation Department.
28-year-old Bessie Grant has been charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor and 3 counts of Failure to Supervise Pupil's School Attendance. 31-year-old David Goodwin has been charged with Failure to Send Child to School and Failure to Supervise Pupil's School Attendance.
According to the Probation Department's statement, the punishment comes as a result of the children's age. While older (teenage) students would generally receive the blame for 'skipping' school, these children are young enough that they rely on their parents to get to school—making the parents fully culpable.
The truancy of Grant and Goodwin's children was not an isolated incident, according to the Probation Dept. In cases of truancy, a letter is usually first sent to the home after three unexcused absences.
A second letter, sent after five absences, is intended to set up a meeting between the school and the parents to find a resolution. At this stage, the school will often offer services or assistance to the family in order to help their children succeed in school.
A third letter is sent out after seven unexcused absences, giving notice of a hearing before the School Attendance Review Board for both parents and students, and ending with a signed contract with the parents to execute a plan to fix the truancy issues.
Cases that end in arrest, the Probation Dept. says, are ones in which the parent has signed a contract, but their child continues to be absent. At that point, the school would approach the District Attorney's Office.
"While today we had to arrest two parents for not complying with the law," said Chief Probation Officer Allison Giannini, "we have had great success in helping other families and students get on track and have a positive school attendence record."
Giannini says that the program—and this level enforcement—is new to this school year. However, so far it seems to be the most effective way of dealing with cases of rampant truancy.
“This is an excellent opportunity, in partnership with the Department of Probation, District Attorney’s Office, and our local law enforcement partners to enforce truancy laws and hold students but more importantly, parents or guardians, accountable for school attendance. Kids who do not attend school, especially habitual truants, are more prone to become involved in crime-related activity and are more inclined to engage in substance abuse and other unsavory activities," said Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey .