INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The Marion County prosecutor's office on Wednesday warned parents that they could face criminal charges if they fail to make sure their kids are in school when they should be.
Prosecutor Terry Curry's initiative takes effect the start of the 2011-12 school year – which for one school system in the county has already started - and it will focus on parents of children 11 years of age or younger.
The prosecutor's office will work with social workers throughout Marion County as part of the effort to curb chronic truancy. By law, a child is defined as habitually truant after missing 10school days. Parents will be notified by school social workers after two or three absences.
Once proper notification has taken place, cases will be forwarded to the prosecutor's
office, which will then determine if charges are warranted. If charges are deemed proper, a summons will be issued for the parent to appear in criminal court.
In most cases, Curry's office said, parents failing to ensure their children's school attendance will be sent into a diversion program, which will be tailored to meet the needs of the parents. Under such diversion agreements, though, any school absence by the child must be an excused absence, or the parent could face jail time.
"The purpose of the initiative is not to target parents who are facing difficult personal circumstances," Curry said. "The purpose is to get kids in school and connect parents to resources they need."
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