Loudoun County Public Schools are making headlines with their policy against excessive tardiness and absences after a Loudoun County mother was arrested and charged with three counts of contributing to the delinquency to a minor.
Maureen Blake, 42, of Purcellville, was served a warrant on Jan. 21, informing her to appear in court on Jan. 25. She was released on a $3,000 bond the same day.
Her children attend an unidentified western Loudoun school close to where the much-publicized Denicore family’s children attend and have been cited for excessive tardies.
Mark and Amy Denicore appeared in court on Feb. 6 after they were summoned for their daughter Sophie’s excessive tardies to school. The Denicore’s three children have been tardy 85 times since September, but have only missed less than three hours each of school.
Mark Denicore, a lawyer, said he could potentially lose his license to practice law if he loses the case and paying up to $3,000 in fines for his children’s tardiness. They will go to trial March 14.
“The warrants were obtained by a Loudoun County [Attendance Officer] via a magistrate on the afternoon of Jan. 19,” Liz Mills, public information officer for Loudoun County Sheriff’s office said. “The sheriff’s office didn’t initiate the arrest and we didn’t determine probable cause. That’s up to the school.”
The warrant was served by a Loudoun County Sheriff’s deputy and a Purcellville Police Officer.
According to Wayde Byard, Loudoun County Schools public information officer, Loudoun County Juvenile and Domestic Relation judges have asked the school system to report excessive absences or tardies to them. The judges’ have asked for the reports from the schools for a year. But, according to Byard, the school system tries to work out constant absence and tardy problems with the parents directly before taking the next step.
“This is not a position we want parents to be in,” Byard said.
The schools do everything in their power to help families who encounter difficulties in getting their children to school, Byard said. But if the family isn’t receptive, the schools need to take it to the next level.
“All we do is report to the court intake officer and from there it’s the legal system,” Byard said. “The judges ask to see all of the excessive absences of tardiness. We don’t issue summons, we don’t send out deputies. That’s up to the court to do that.”
Byard also said that in the beginning of each year, parents sign a Student Rights and Responsibilities packet that addresses their attendance policy.
Under the Students Rights and Responsibilities, after 15 or more consecutive absences or excessive tardies the Virginia Administrative Code requires the student be dropped from the attendance rolls. It’s then up to the principal to discipline the child.
If any student gets a minimum of five unexcused absences, a parent or guardian is required to provide the school with documentation from a licensed physician in regards to their absence.
According to the Student Rights and Responsibilities “a student is truant any time he or she willfully absents himself or herself from school or from any assigned class or activity. Excessive unexcused tardies may result in a truancy referral. Truancy is a serious offense that requires a stern correction action on the part of the school and the parents.”
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