Few parents with truant warrants show up to court to avoid jail time

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. -- Parents of truant children were offered amnesty Thursday, but not many took advantage.

Shelby County officials have warrants out for 107 parents who's children missed at least ten days of school.

Those parents were given an opportunity to meet with a judge without going into custody. Officials called it 'Operation Safe Serve.'

Only eight parents took advantage though.

For most of the afternoon, deputies and the district attorney's truancy team stood around waiting.

They didn't expect every parent to show up. They just wanted to give them a chance to make amends.

By law, if your child has more than five unexcused absences, you can be arrested, face a fine and jail time.

The DA's office gave multiple warnings to parents with truant children including emails, letters and phone calls asking them to come to a meeting where they can provide help.

107 parents and guardians ignored those warnings. They have been issued warrants. Some date back a couple years.

The DA's office then gave those parents another chance by allowing them to come to the Criminal Justice Center to meet with a judge and explain what was going on.

The few that showed up had their warrants turned into summons. They were also offered resources.

"We make connections to resources in the community. If they issues with a uniform, if a family needs counseling, if a child needs counseling, we help," said Megan Pietrowski, the truancy reduction initiative director.

For those parents who didn't show up, the DA's office said the warrant stands. Those parents are fugitives and can face jail time.

They said the best course of action now is to just turn yourself in. They want to work with parents, not put them in jail.

"I think it’s just a lack of trust in the process. I think they are often times are afraid we are going to take them into custody. We are going to continue to hold this event until we can gain the trust of the community that we are genuinely here to help them," said Pietrowski.

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