Parents in one Georgia county can be arrested and tossed in jail for a month if their children miss too much school – even if the child is sick.
Mother and substitute teacher Julie Giles was arrested because she did not get a note from the doctor every time her son missed school because of sickness. She faces up to 30 days in jail and says she cannot afford a doctor’s visit each time her son falls ill.
Giles received a certified letter the day before Mother’s Day, informing her a warrant likely would be issued for her arrest (it was). She turned herself in and was placed in shackles, and then photographed and released.
Her son, Samuel, an honor’s student, had 12 unexcused absences, seven more than are allowed under school policy. The absences are considered unexcused because there was no note from the doctor. Giles says the doctor “reissued” doctor’s notes for all but three of the absences – meaning she was arrested for three unexcused absences, she said.
“The truth is l cannot afford a copay every single time they are sick, but I never want to send them to school when they feel bad or could possibly get others sick,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “I have NEVER been in trouble before in my life and the boys are beside themselves. We need prayer! I know that God is good and is with me in all things!!”
In Sam’s most recent report card, he had four As and four Bs.
The mother is now being represented by attorneys from a group called the National Association of Parents.
The school is standing by the action. In fact, Giles isn’t the first parent to be arrested under the policy.
“It’s important for these children to be in school and I think the courts recognize that,” Screven County Schools Superintendent William Bland told TV station WTOC.
Said the National Association of Parents, “Her son has been sick a lot, but not so sick as to make going to the doctor necessary. Doctor visits mean going to where other people are sick, where her son’s illness could affect others, call for a co-pay, and take up valuable time of the doctor and staff.”
“Yet, school officials can decide an absence is unexcused because a parent’s word is not sufficient, even for a child clearly doing well in school,” the release noted.
Samuel even was named “Student of the Month” for April.
“His teacher said that Sam was chosen because he always tries to make others feel better about themselves and will even engage in activities that aren’t his first choice, but are his friend’s choice, to make his classmates feel special,” Giles wrote.
Her future now is in the hands of a court. The association says that Giles could face jail time if she is convicted. A GoFundMe Page has been set up to raise money for her legal defense and to cover moving expenses. Not surprisingly, she wants to move outside the county now.
“Hoping the attention my arrest has been drawing will bring about much needed change,” she wrote. “Scripture tells us “the fruit of the womb is a reward”, government tells us they are a form of currency. Children in their desks equals money!! What is that mentality doing to the children? Parents deserve the right to raise their children without being afraid of power being abused against them.”
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