Atkinson Co. district attorney addresses truancy issues

Atkinson Co. district attorney addresses truancy issues
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 7:15 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2022 at 7:40 PM EDT
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PEARSON, Ga. (WALB) - During the last two school years, many Atkinson county students had up to 40 unexcused absences from school. The district attorney wants that to end.

Between 50 to 100 parents received a letter that demanded them to show up at the courthouse or face a possible arrest warrant.

Several parents thought the letter was a subpoena which made them feel like criminals.

“My thing is the way the letter was worded it said that if we was not here that a warrant would be issued for our arrest. That’s my problem,” a concerned parent said. “Like I said, I got a job to do and I can’t keep taking off. They couldn’t do differently, we couldn’t go to the school house and talked to us One on One. "

Chase Studstill, Atkinson County District Attorney, said the letter parents received was misleading.

No arrest or warrants were issued. The District Attorney’s intent was to be proactive in trying to inform parents on what legal actions parents could face.

Under Georgia’s compulsory attendance law, a warrant can be issued to any parent whose child misses more than 5 days of school. Parents can also be fined $100 and can face up to 30 days in prison.

Studstill said he tries to be as lenient as possible to fix the issue before that law is enforced.

Studstill added he understands why attendance numbers were inflated during the pandemic but going forward he wants parents to be held accountable.

“Covid has seemingly cooled off somewhat. I don’t think it’ll ever go away but we want to be proactive and address what’s going to happen if we can’t get attendance under control,” He said.

Doctor’s notes are unlimited, if a child is sick and has a doctor’s note, that absence is excused.

Studstill addressed the high school parents Wednesday and plans to hold the same meeting for the middle and elementary schools.