Child kicked out of preschool for absenteeism; mom cites sibling illness


by Staff

Posted on January 17, 2013 at 10:30 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 18 at 1:05 PM

ST. LOUIS ( -- A St. Louis preschooler was kicked out of school after the district says he has been absent too many times.

Jackie Woody is upset with the action and says there is a good reason her son Zachary has missed the days; citing his brother’s serious illness.

However, district officials point to a parent agreement that states a preschooler must be in class 85 percent of the time.

Woody says she had explained the situation to administrators at Mann Elementary School, and thought they had an understanding.

“They told my mom basically they understood Zachary’s situation and they tend not to look at preschoolers in regards to absenteeism and for us not to worry about it,” Woody said.

This week, she says, officials suddenly changed their tone, and called her to inform her Zachary had been absent too much.

Woody says her son has missed a lot of school because of colds and flu, and a unique situation with his brother.

“His brother has cystic fibrosis and requres a lot of my attention and is in the hospital for some time throughout the year and there are times when its a mess here,” she said.

City school officials, for privacy reasons, wouldn’t comment directly on Zachary’s situation. They did say, however, rules are rules.

“We’re not here to have children leave the program we want them to be there,” said Patrick Wallace with the St. Louis School District. “So we ask them to commit to 85%.”

Thursday, four-year-old Zachary spent the day playing a football video game at home. Woody says she still doesn’t know how to tell him he won’t be going back to school.

“I feel like i’m being lied to and my son is being punished,” she said.

City school officials say there’s a waiting list for the preschool program which puts even more pressure on attendance.

For Zachary, it also means he’ll have to wait until Fall to go back to school.