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Parents Arrested When a Kid Misses School?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 21, 2012 12:02 PM

Can a parent be arrested when a kid misses school?

There are more and more stories about such arrests, with the latest coming out of Lake County, Fla. Elizabeth Marrero's daughter, who should be in high school, hasn't yet graduated from middle school. She's missed two years of classes despite the school district's attempts to get her back on campus.

When the state attorney found out, Marrero was arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

This crime is most closely associated with the act of providing alcohol or drugs to a minor. However, state statutes are much broader than that. A parent or guardian can be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor when he or she aids, induces, causes or encourages a person under the age of 18 to violate the law or a court order.

A number of states have started using these statutes to arrest parents when a kid misses school or is repeatedly late. This is because every single state has a compulsory education law. Children must be enrolled in a public or private school or be adequately home-schooled.

A child is in violation of mandatory attendance laws when he repeatedly misses school. A parent that allows this behavior, particularly in younger children, can be found to be contributing to a child's lawbreaking behavior.

If a state's delinquency law doesn't cover this kind of situation, its child neglect statute may. Some neglect statutes punish parents who do not meet their minor child's educational needs. For example, South Carolina law states that "child abuse or neglect ... occurs when a parent ... fails to supply the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, education ..."

So yes, it's possible for a parent to be arrested when a kid misses school. If there's a reason your child can't -- or won't -- make it on a regular basis, talk to the school district before they ask prosecutors to punish you.

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