Posted on September 3, 2014 at 4:31 PM
ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. (KMOV.com) -- Children across the country are back in the classroom, but authorities in St. Clair County are holding parents responsible for making sure students stay there.
So far in 2014, thirteen St. Clair County parents have reported to this courthouse because their child was considered chronically truant. As this trend grows, the state’s attorney says he hopes it helps to cut down the number of violent crimes committed by once truant students.
“This is all about dealing with this up front - before it becomes a problem,” said Brendan Kelly.
State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said when looking at the background of those involved in serious crimes, a common thread is almost always truancy. He says reducing absences in younger kids now will save millions in the long run in incarceration costs and community impact.
“The program we have here is focused on the parents, where it’s clearly the parent that's an issue,” Kelly said. “If you have a kid who is 8 or 9 or 10 years-old and they're not in school usually it’s not the kid that's the problem.”
Once a child is flagged as excessively truant, several interventions are tried at the school and local level before the parent is charged. If found guilty though, the parent could be sentenced to up to thirty days in jail, a fine, or both.
“I'm just a true believer in kids going to school every day and if your kid's absent and it’s an ongoing thing then yes the parents should be held responsible,” said Keith McClanahan, a resident of St. Clair County.
St. Clair County is not alone. Madison County has its own truancy court which is also seeing an uptick of parents being charged - already more than triple the number prosecuted in 2013. Saint Charles also introduced a truancy court this school year.