Six-Year-Old Punished for Truancy

According to reports, six-year-old Brooke Loeffler of San Antonio Texas spent two days in detention after her parents made her late to school on several occasions. Brooke, who attends Olympia Elementary School, was required to sit by herself for two days during lunch hour with her face to a wall.

Her father, who felt responsible for Brooke’s punishment, sat with her during one of her detentions. He said, “It was my responsibility to get her ready and get her to school. I failed that responsibility a couple of times.”

According to Brooke’s parents, Brooke was late to school because the family has a new baby at home and is still in the process of adjusting to this change.

Although Brooke’s family would prefer the school’s policy to punish the parents instead of the kids, Olympia Elementary defended its policy stating that it is effective and has reduced tardiness by as much as ninety percent.

Brooke’s father said, “I told [Brooke] we were sorry and it wasn’t going to happen again.”

According to Arizona Revised Statute 15-802, “Every child between the ages of six and sixteen years shall attend school . . . for the full time school is in session.”

Under Arizona Revised Statute 15-803, a child found to be “habitually truant” may be referred to the Juvenile Court System and adjudicated as an incorrigible child.

Each school district in Arizona handles truancy differently.

According to the Mesa School district, a student with five or more unexcused absences will be required to attend a hearing at which the student will receive consequences, and the parent will be assessed a fine. A student who fails to comply with the issued consequences will be referred to the Juvenile Court System and may face a Class 3 Misdemeanor.  

According to the Chandler School district, a student with three unexcused absences will face consequences such as detention, community service and suspension. A student with a total of 18 excused and/or unexcused absences will be referred to the Juvenile Court System.

As to the parent, Arizona law requires parents or guardians to ensure that their children attend school. Failure to comply with this law may result in the assessment of criminal charges and punishment of up to $500 in fines and 30 days in jail.  A parent who contributes to the child’s truancy may face criminal charges punishable by fines up to $2500 and six months of jail time.

Why is Arizona law so tough on truancy?

According to experts in juvenile delinquency, truancy may often indicate a potential for future criminal activity such as involvement in gangs, vandalism, burglary, drug/alcohol abuse and incarceration. Truancy, according to experts, also increases the risk of emotional problems and social isolation.

If your child has been referred to the Juvenile Justice System for truancy, contact the juvenile attorneys at the law firm Oracle Law Group today for an aggressive juvenile defense.