Baltimore Parents Jailed Over Truant Kids

By Adam Ramirez on April 26, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Parents who turn a blind eye to their children ditching school are being put behind bars.

A dozen parents of Baltimore school students were sentenced to jail this year because their minor children missed excessive amounts of school, the Baltimore Sun reports.

More than 400 parents have received notifications this school year that they would face a district court judge as a result of charges filed by the school system's Office of Attendance and Truancy, the Sun reports.

But there is something parents fear even more than hearing from this office. They also dread receiving word from Alfred Barbour, the court liaison for the school system, according to the Sun. He enforces the school system's philosophy that children younger than 16 -- the state's compulsory age of attendance -- missing exorbitant amounts of school is not only unacceptable but criminal.

Before they get to this stage "many efforts and processes and steps have been done at the school level, and nothing has worked, everything has failed," Barbour told the Sun.

Cases involving jail time are "the worst of the worse. And we have to show that we are not playing. This is the law."

Jonathan Brice, who oversees Baltimore's Office of Truancy, told the Sun that filing charges is a last resort. "But it's critical that we get those parents' and young people's attention about the seriousness of being in school."

About 14 percent of the truants do better after charges are filed, and about 43 percent improve after a parent's first court appearance, the ABA Journal stated.

Fareed Nassor Hayat, a lawyer and former teacher, disagrees with the tactic. "I have a moral issue with how they're criminalizing parents who aren't really criminals at all--and it doesn't even fix the problem," he told the Sun.

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