A Michigan mom was thrown behind bars after the school determined her daughter was a repeat offender. Did the mother deserve to be punished? You decide.
Brittany Ann Horton found herself in hot water after her daughter missed school a total of 26 times — absences which were reportedly unexcused. Horton was ordered to spend 5 days behind bars and was placed on probation for nine months after she pleaded guilty to truancy, Inside Edition reports. Not everyone agrees with the mom being held accountable, and they even go so far as to blame the school.
According to the school, however, they made many attempts to resolve the issue. Several letters were sent home to the Michigan mother beginning in October, but they went unanswered as the 27-year-old’s daughter, who’s only 6, continued to miss more days. A parent meeting was scheduled to discuss the issue, but Horton never showed. Then, in January, three months after the school began sending letters home, the case was referred to prosecutors.
It wasn’t the troubling number of absences that landed Horton in big trouble, though. Charges were only pursued after the mother failed to make efforts to remedy the problem. “Our office does not file charges against parents who are genuinely trying to resolve the issues. The vast majority of chronic truancy cases never end up in court,” Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson said. “However, when parents like Ms. Horton refuse to make reasonable efforts to address the truancy problem, our office is committed to making sure the children of our community are not deprived of an education.”
In fact, the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office tried to follow up with Horton in February in an attempt to resolve the issue without going to court. They sent the mother a letter and scheduled a meeting with her, but she once again didn’t respond or show up, just like with the school’s previous attempts to work on the problem with her. That’s when they were left with no choice but to file truancy charges against her in March. But, she still ignored the issue.
Even after truancy charges were filed, Brittany Ann Horton did not appear for her arraignment after posting bond. A bench warrant was subsequently issued for her arrest. In May, Horton finally pleaded guilty. At that time, she agreed to work with the school and service providers to resolve the issue, and her sentencing was delayed by the court in order to give her time to do so.
Instead of working on the problem, however, Horton’s daughter was absent from school at least 14 more times, resulting in the mother being ordered to spend 5 days behind bars and being placed on probation for 9 months, ABC News reported. In addition to jail time and probation, Horton was also ordered to pay $525 in fines.
“Our office is committed to doing anything possible to help parents resolve truancy problems. Filing charges is always a last resort after all other attempts to help a parent have been rejected,” Hilson reiterated in a statement. “Had Ms. Horton met with us, the school or service providers, she would have been provided any services needed to address any possible issues.”
Shockingly, though, many on social media have still sided with the mother and chose to condemn the school. “It has to do with the school not getting $$$$$ since funds depend on attendance,” one Facebook user alleged as another added, “This is ridiculous. My mother NEVER called the school, the school NEVER called the house. The next time I went to school, I had a note explaining my absence. This is a strange world we live in.”
But, not everyone shares those same sentiments. “I am amazed how some parents can turn this situation into the school’s fault. Goes to show the real problem,” one person wrote in response to the backlash being slung at the school, while another chimed in to say, “She deserves it, 26 unexcused absences is unacceptable and she missed a meeting at the school about this, this mom doesn’t GAF.”
Regardless of how you feel about the public school system, every parent is aware of the expectations when their child is enrolled. In this case, it certainly does seem that the absences weren’t the issue, but rather, the mom’s neglect in addressing the concern was the biggest reason she was locked up. You can’t ignore a problem and hope it will go away. Adults should be able to communicate. This mom failed to do that, regardless of whether the absences may have been warranted.