Dear Client: Liability for Parents in Truancy Matters
In my law practice, friends, family, and random callers seek advice and information about Georgia Law. A recent question focused on Truancy in Georgia. A rural community had a parent arrested for a child’s purported 12 or so unexcused absences. The question: does it just happen out of the blue or is there some process before a parent is arrested? Georgia law requires that children between the ages of 6 and 16 attend school. If a child has 5 or more unexcused absences that parent or guardian in control of the child can be charged with a misdemeanor, sentenced to up to 30 days in jail, community service and/or a fine of between $25 and $1000. Each unexcused absence beyond the 5 days can be treated as a separate crime. OCGA 20-2-690.1. In my experience, school systems prefer to deal with the issue by speaking with parents and resolving issues.
Only when the parent and child fail to improve on the problem or provide a reasonable explanation do parents go to jail. School systems are required to have a truancy protocol to address these incidents before reaching the arrest and charging level. OCGA 20-2-690.2. Providing written excuses and communicating with the school and the Truancy team can help parents avoid arrest in most cases. Failure to get a child to school on time is the responsibility of the parent under Georgia law. Judges and schools prefer for a child to be school, learning. No one wants to do the paperwork associated with arresting someone, having to appear in court, and deal with the Court system if they don’t have to.