Parents of Chronically Absent Students Arrested in OC

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The parents of Orange County students who had accumulated dozens of unexcused absences were arrested Thursday, April 18, 2013, as part of a “truancy sweep” conducted by several law enforcement agencies.

    Six Orange County parents were arrested Thursday for allegedly letting their school-aged children accumulate dozens of unexcused absences even after the school district issued warning about the students’ truancy, according to OC law enforcement officials.

    Toya Latrice Daniels, 38; Gustavo Martinez, 48, and Maria de la Luz Martinez, 37; Cheree Peoples, 33; Toni Marie Aranda, 32; and Virginia Ferrer Avila, 34, were arrested Thursday morning after their children had been taken to school, authorities said.

    Five of the parents’ children attend elementary school, and the other parent’s child attends middle school in Orange County. The Martinezes are accused of not enrolling their teenage child in school by January, more than five months into the academic year.

    Documents: Details of Allegations Against Each Parent (.PDF)

    Unexcused absences among the students ranged from 17 days to 24 days. Authorities said the parents had been contacted at least once by school and law enforcement officials, and offered ways to help their child’s truancy – such as after-school homework programs and enrollment in a mentor program.

    All six parents face one count each of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and failure to reasonable supervise or encourage school attendance, both misdemeanors. If convicted, the parents face a sentence ranging from probation to up to a year in jail, and $2,500 in fines.

    The parents were arrested as part of a sweep by a team of law enforcement agencies that comprise the OC Gang Reduction Intervention Program, which aims to increase school attendance and decrease gang activity among at-risk youth.

    California law requires all school-aged children to be enrolled in and attend school. If they do not, the students can be tried in juvenile court and the parents could be criminally prosecuted.

    After being booked into the OC Jail Thursday, the parents were released on their own recognizance before the school day ended, authorities said.

    Their arraignment dates have not yet been set, officials said.

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