Clovis, NM – Andrea Reeb, Ninth Judicial District Attorney, announced on June 13, 2019, that four parents will be summoned to Magistrate Court for Failure to Enforce Compulsory School Attendance from the 2018-2019 school year. The charge is a petty misdemeanor.
Per the NM law, a student with more than 10 unexcused absences in a school year is considered a “habitual truant.” A first time conviction for this criminal offense is not punishable by jail time; however, any second or subsequent offense for Failure to Enforce Compulsory School Attendance is punishable by six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.
The children of the charged individuals had in excess of 25 absences in a short time period and no valid reasons as to why their children were not in school. The children range in ages from 10 to 13 years old.
Cases of chronic truancy only reach the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution after numerous attempts by the Clovis school system and Children, Youth and Families to assist in correcting the chronic truancy issue. The District Attorney’s Office then takes the additional step of attempting to reach out again to the parents of the truant child to try and correct the problem prior to proceeding with the prosecution of the parent.
District Attorney, Andrea Reeb, stated, “While this charge might not carry a very stiff penalty, statistics have shown that a huge percentage of crimes committed in the Ninth Judicial District were committed by high school dropouts. The District Attorney’s Office is committed to doing everything possible to reduce the amount of crime overall in our community which means enforcing compulsory school attendance and continuing to be proactive with our Abolish Chronic Truancy (ACT) program.”
Abolish Chronic Truancy is a program created by the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office to combat student dropout rates and increase school attendance. The popular mascot, “Squatch”, visits schools in the district twice a year to promote perfect attendance. Incentives and prizes are given out to students who have perfect attendance. Since the program’s inception, attendance has increased significantly.
For further information, please contact the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office.