SCS elementary student’s mom arrested for too many school absences

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. -- We're only a few weeks into the school year and a Shelby County parent has been arrested for truancy violations.

It's a story the District Attorney's office and school board want to serve as a lesson.

The DA said they're interested in putting students in classrooms and not parents in jail, but they also said education's important enough to do just that if necessary.

"Education is important and it should come first," said Dr. Lakira Boyd, federal program advisor.

Not prioritizing a student's class attendance has already gotten one mom in trouble.

Court records say Lashundra Cohnes' elementary student missed class at least five times last year.

She was summoned to court for it and when she didn't show, a warrant was issued.

"We never want to get to that point," said Dr. Boyd.

Cohnes was arrested this week and bailed out Thursday.

We went to her house to get her side of the story, but no one came to the door.

Other parents say truancy isn't something to mess with.

"It's not worth the hassle," said Andrea Cole. "It's not worth the trouble, you should just go ahead and get your kids in school."

A message the district attorney's office takes seriously.

They're focusing on repeat offenders and put in phone calls to them before this school year to make sure their kids end up in class.

Otherwise, it can be up to 30 days in jail and a $50 fine.

"When days go by and months go by and they're still not in school, they're missing valuable information," said Dr. Boyd.

Students are considered chronically absent if they miss 18 days of school, but parents will be sent to court after five unexcused absences.

"I know some standards they cover in like a week or two, so that's a lot of information that those kids have missed within those five days," said Dr. Boyd.

The Shelby County School District does offer resources if parents are having trouble getting their kids to school and the DA's office offers alternative programs to help repeat offenders stay out of jail.

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