Missoula County Attorney’s Office Cracking Down on Truancy
Playing hooky won’t work anymore in Missoula. According to Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst, the county began an effort this month to crack down on truancy.
"We are cracking down on parents who don't send their kids to school. I'm talking about 6, 7, 8 year old kids who are not being brought to school for multiple days in the semester, sometimes 20, sometimes up to 50 days," Pabst said. "There's a statute in Montana that allows us to prosecute those parents and we're giving them plenty of opportunity."
Pabst says schools will send parents a warning after a child’s unexcused absences become too egregious. However, If parents don’t respond, the county attorney’s office will.
"We contact them and let them know, look, you need to do this or else we're going to file a case in court. We end up having to drag you into court and that's going to mean you're going to have to pay a $100 fine and do 20 hours of community service. Usually that's enough to get their attention to bring their kids to school, but if it doesn't, then the statute says the next step is jail."
Pabst says there are a handful of students every semester that persistently miss class and that the county attorney’s office already has letters in the mail for parents of absentee students.