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Waterford parents go to court for kids’ constant tardiness

Mark Denicore leaves early for work each morning from his home in Waterford. His wife, Amy, is in charge of getting their three children ready and out the door for school.

With three children, all under age 10, it can be challenging to get them ready all at once and make it to school on time.

What is every parent’s early-morning routine challenge has now turned into a legal battle and a potential life-changing event for the family.

On Jan. 31, the Denicores were served with a summons to appear in court on a Class 3 misdemeanor for their daughter Sophie’s excessive tardiness. 

The Denicores admit they’re not perfect parents. Their three children have been late to school 85 times since September, but the majority of the time they missed the opening bell by only a few minutes.

Mark and Amy Denicore appeared at the Loudoun County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on Feb. 6 in front of Judge Pamela Brooks for an arraignment.

They’re scheduled for trial on March 14.

Mark Denicore, who works as an attorney, says he could potentially lose his license to practice law if he loses the case, not to mention paying upwards of $3,000 in fines for his children’s tardiness. 

The three children have only missed less than three hours each of school since September, Mark Denicore said.

“I would say that it’s pretty extreme. The Virginia truancy statutes is for kids that are blowing off school without their parent’s knowledge, not for this kind of thing,” Mark Denicore said. “They’re taking a lot of leeway in their interpretation of what the code says to make it criminal conduct, it’s outrageous.”

Although he and his wife had been warned of the constant tardies, they didn’t feel that the school system would take it to this extreme.

“We understand the school is running a train and they want everybody in the train station before the train leaves,” Mark Denicore said. “I understand that this is a legitimate goal to have and we are doing our best to try to comply to that. But, we’re not perfect parents. We don’t have perfect kids and sometimes we’re late. The real issue is is that criminal conduct? I can’t find it in the statues.”

Amy Denicore is a stay-at-home mom and either drives their children to school or allows them to walk the few blocks to Waterford Elementary.

Wayde Byard, Loudoun County Public School’s public information officer, said the first mission of the school system is to help the child and help the parent help the child.
“The judges have asked us to turn over chronic attendance issues such as this. We issue no summons on anybody. The procedure is after five days we’ll call the parent and say we need to talk about this,” Byard said. “There’s obviously a recurrent pattern developing here. After six days of unexcused absences we’ll have a parent conference and we’ll try to get a strategy going on how can we help you get your child to school, have them here on time and ready to learn.”

Mark Denicore said his family received numerous warnings and correspondence from the school system about his children’s tardiness, but the family has never had a conference with officials to discuss the issue. Mark Denicore did request a meeting between the school’s principal, attendance officer and legal counsel, but the school system never responded.

Byard said the school system has five attendance officers in charge of investigating cases with schools to improve student attendance and enforce compulsory attendance laws. The attendance officers also initiate legal actions against parents or guardians who unlawfully cause their child to be absent from school, among other times, Byard said.

Byard said by Virginia State Code, school officials have to report anything that would affect a child’s welfare at school. He also said that the last step would be taking the information to the intake officer within the court system after numerous attempts to work with the family.

“After that it would have to be only very chronic level cases where the school level has failed where we’ll take it to the intake officer at the juvenile and domestic relations court who will then take it to a magistrate if they deem it worthy of that attention and then they issue a summons,” Byard said. “The judge will decide if there will be a hearing. This is not us arresting people on the street.”

According to Mark Denicore’s records, his daughter Daisy has been late 29 times since September. His daughter, Sophie, has been late 27 times and his son, Tucker, has been late 29 times.

Mark and Amy Denicore will go to trial on March 14 and ask for the case to be dismissed. If the case isn’t dismissed, the Denicores will have their chance to defend themselves with character witnesses. According to Mark Denicore, Virginia State Code 22.1-254, which they are being charged under, doesn’t state anything about a child’s tardiness.

“I can’t figure it out …” Mark Denicore said.

According to Byard, there has been one other family summoned to court this year for the same issue the Denicores are involved in.

Mark Denicore also questioned students who are able to leave early from school and if they would get the same treatment as tardy students.

“I would like parents not to be bullied by the school system,” Denicore said. “We send our children to school so they can learn not to bullied.”

Mark Denicore said that not only did both he and his wife appear in court on Feb. 6, they also got all three of their children to school on time – but it wasn’t easy.


After reading the responses to this article, it’s clear that people are operating from an idealistic and overwrought mentality. People are too consumed and preoccupied with the logistics, as to be apathetic to their human condition. People care too much about comparing themselves with others, as to become spiteful with ill-conceived notions. Obviously, being tardy by mere minutes, even excessively, doesn’t denote criminal misconduct. It doesn’t disrupt the educational system into total disarray. It should be fixed, but not by behaving outlandishly. How crazy our world has become that tardiness has become a issue requiring criminal trails and policing of our families.
Take care,

@Sad American - I am so happy that you are smarting than me.

It is not a rule that does not apply; it is the law that they think should not apply.  Waterford Entitlement Syndrome.

Most of you ignorant reactionary fools don’t deserve the freedom really smart thinking people (many lawyers I might add) have worked so hard to create for you. It’s truly pathetic… Your indignation, your sense of superiority, your emphasis on following rules, your lynch ‘em mob mentality… It’s truly a sign that your own education was a pathetic failure. Your parents taught you to follow the rules, but forgot to teach you when to challenge them. As Americans, you are a pitiful lot. Be thankful that some Americans like the founders think enough to challenge rules and overbearing government bureaucrats.

I’m just hoping when my son is old enough for school, I will include punctuality in the bag of virtues I cultivate. It is disrespectful to others to be late to any meeting but in elementary school where kids are learning routine, even more so. Don’t teach your kids that their actions don’t have consequences for themselves and for others.

Why shouldn’t the Denicores play by the rules everyone else does.  I’ll bet if the attorney husband was late to court 85/100 times the judge would tear into his a$$.  Get your kids to school on time, Mrs. Denicore.  You are inconveniencing a multitude of people.

did anyone talk about ADA yet (average daily attendance?) because tardies can really mess up a school’s ADA and that means less funding for the school and, eventually, a negative impact on your kids’ learning environment.

I certainly hope the Denicore’s now regret their decision to incite a media circus around what should have been a private matter between them and LCPS. If not, then I stand by my affirmation that national attention was their true motive here.

“hard core feminist attorney”

greeeeaaaaattttt….dont forget to add bitter, unattractive and angry next time you decribe yourself… ywia

@Hardknocks: Many of us “clog of the roads to schools” and drop our children off and pick them up because the bus has children on it who use filthy language and act inappropriately. I don’t need my 6 and 8 year old getting sex-ed on their school bus. I am capable of driving my children to school and picking them up and do so every single day. I’m their mother—that’s my job and it’s my right. I have declined bus service and the bus does not come to my house at all.

As for the Denicores, they couldn’t be nicer people and there is absolutely zero abuse of the children or alcohol or drugs going on in the home, just poor time management skills. It really is as simple as that. Why so many of you have to trivialize such a delicate matter is beyond me. They are wrong in this situation, but it does not warrant criminal charges—just firm punishment to help them get their acts together.

Waterford neighbor: This tardy situation does not pertain to me in any way but since you brought up busses here goes: a bus comes through my neighborhood to take children to high school…a school which is so close that MOST of the kids walk (or drive themselves) yet the bus still comes..We have asked to have the bus service to be stopped but we are told no…so I don’t find it disrespectful or a waste of time for the bus driver or other students when we TOLD them that the run is not wanted. Sure there are a few kids that do ride but only because it is there

Waterford Neighbor - a voice of reason, thanks!  I’ve always wondered why parents clog up the roads to schools; my family never provided special delivery and we were always on time.

If you look at LCPS bus transportation schedules a bus is provided to pick these kids up at 7:26 every morning, at their front door (BTW) and it arrives at the school 4 minutes later. The first child on the run is picked up before 7am. Seems unfair that the first child must get on the bus so much earlier only so the ones at the end of the run don’t show up. Seems unfair and wasteful that the county uses resources to provide transportation for these children and it is not utilized. Isn’t this what the county has done to help these folks get to school on time? How come no one has explored the issue of why the mom “must drive the kids or walk them the three blocks” to school instead of taking the bus taxpayers pay for?

@concerned neighbor

What is wrong with people like you?!?!  You want their childern taken away because the children are tardy to school? 

You’re not a concerned neighbor..you’re some crazy lunatic that think peole should have their hand cut off for shoplifting.

Hopefully, their kids aren’t held back in school or you will be calling for the execution in the school parking lot!!!!

What else may be happening the home?  What kind of parents are the Denicores?  How are they treating the children behind closed doors?

The county has a program that helps parents…here’s the webiste…got to ‘life skills’.  http://www.loudoun.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=2317

Or call Supernanny.  Perhaps a structured foster home might be a good idea.

This goes to a bigger problem—chronic tardiness even by adults for all sorts of things from meeting dinner with friends to meetings to going to church or movies.  I am sick and tired of hearing a presenter say, “We’ll give it a few more minutes for those who are late in arriving.”  It seems you punish the people who are punctual and inconvenience them instead of the other way around.  When you are chronically late—and not on a rare occasion due to no fault of your own—it shows an inconsideration and a disrespect of others.
Get it together people!

Since when does a lawyer lose a license to practice law based on a Class 3 Misdemeanor?  Sounds like a “poor me” excuse.

Is he or was he really planning to run for the Catoctin Board of Supervisor seat?  “Sorry, I missed the vote, I was looking for my favorite pants-  not my fault”.

Please.  There is a stay at home mom - that is her JOB!  This is from a hard core feminist attorney.  Damn it girl - if you are going to stay at home and be a mom then do it RIGHT!  That is the job you applied for and got accepted to.  DO IT!

I work midnights, and my husband is in charge of getting FOUR kids to school in the am. an teenager, a ten year old a five year old and a 7 year old. He is in charge of getting the kids up,breakfast done, and make sure they have their backpacks and lunches (all done the night before by us) and to the bus stop on time. (715 for the teenager and 8 am for the elementary school kids. ) My teenager has missed the bus several times and has had to be taken to school, but my little ones have YET to miss the bus. its a matter or setting a schedule, posting it in your kitchen if necessary, laying clothes, lunches and backpacks out the night before and prioritizing. Noone is questioning their parenting skills, however acting like the school district is at fault is absurd to me. If my husband and I whoBOTH work full time, on opposing shifts can manage to make sure that we get FOUR kids off to school on time in the am, than a stay at home mom surely can. No sympathy here, esp when on TV it doesn’t even show that Mr. Denicore was upset about the actions of him and his wife but more on the actions of the school. It is not the schools responsibility to make sure they are there on time, its the parents.

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