Schools pursue truancy charge

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By John Foster

Oldham County Schools officials intend to pursue truancy charges against parents who have kept their son out of Crestwood Elementary School for the last two months.Robert and Jeanie Montgomery have not sent their son Matthew, who has autism, to school because they are concerned about his safety. They have another son who still attends the school.The parents have not allowed Matthew to return since March 28 after he allegedly came home with cuts and abrasions on three separate incidences this spring.His mother also contends school officials did not adequately address concerns she had about use of time-out for her son.She has filed a formal complaint with the Kentucky Department of Education and reported the alleged incidents to Child Protective Services.Oldham County Schools’ spokesperson Rebecca DeSensi said the school board would never support returning a child to an unsafe environment. In this case, CPS officials have not addressed the school board with any concerns or the board would be glad to accommodate those concerns, she said.“That is why we expect the child to be in school,” she said.After news coverage about her complaint and her son’s alleged treatment at the school surfaced, Montgomery said lawyers have advised her not to answer questions from the media.State law defines as truant any student who has been out of school without valid excuse for three or more days.DeSensi said in all cases board officials take many steps to address truancy before sending truancy cases to be prosecuted in district court. Multiple efforts are made to contact a family.A family can correct the situation at any point, including after their final notice, by returning to school without additional unexcused absences.County Attorney John Fendley prosecutes truancy cases.He said he has not yet received the case for review, but if a middle school or elementary school student is truant, Fendley said he prosecutes the parents instead of the student.“If you don’t send that child to school, you’re violating that law,” he said.He said he prosecutes those cases as third-degree unlawful transaction with a minor, a class A misdemeanor.The law states that a person is guilty of an unlawful transaction with a minor when “he knowingly induces, assists or causes a minor to become a habitual truant.”A conviction carries up to a year in jail and up to a $500 fine.

E-mail us about this story at: jfoster@oldhamera.com.