Six Orange County parents arrested for kids’ chronic truancy

Bruce Chambers/Orange County Register

After arresting Toya Latrice Daniels, Buena Park police officer James Woo, right, walks Daniels out her home and to his patrol car for transportation to the Buena Park Police Department. Daniels was charged with one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one misdemeanor count of failure to reasonably supervise or encourage school attendance. By March of the school year, her elementary school child had accumulated 17 unexcused absences.

Parent Truancy Sweep - 2

Bruce Chambers/Orange County Register

Buena Park police officers Luis Garcia, left, and James Woo, escort Cheree People, 33, to their patrol car, handcuffed and under arrest after ignoring several attempts by law enforcement, school officials and members of the Distrtict Attorneys office to help her get her elementary school child's high truancy rate reduced. The child had accumulated 20 unexcused absences as of January. Peoples was arrested at her home and charged with one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one misdemeanor count of failure to reasonably supervise or encourage school attendance. If convicted, parents faces a sentence ranging from probation up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines.

Bruce Chambers/Orange County Register

After arresting Toya Latrice Daniels, Buena Park police officer James Woo, left, places Daniels in his patrol car for transportation to the Buena Park Police Department. Daniels was charged with one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one misdemeanor count of failure to reasonably supervise or encourage school attendance. By March of the school year, her elementary school child had accumulated 17 unexcused absences.

Parent Truancy Sweep -

Bruce Chambers/Orange County Register

After arresting Toya Latrice Daniels, 38, Buena Park police officer James Woo, right, walks Daniels out her apartment complex and to his patrol car. Daniels was charged with one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one misdemeanor count of failure to reasonably supervise or encourage school attendance. By March of the school year, her elementary school child had accumulated 17 unexcused absences.

Bruce Chambers/Orange County Register

Buena Park police officers Luis Garcia, right, and James Woo, knock on the door of parent Cheree People, 33. They had come to arrest her for misdemeanor charges of contributing to the .delinquency of a minor and one misdemeanor count of failure to reasonably supervise or encourage school attendance. According to Orange County Deputy District Attorney Tracy Rinauro, People's elementary school child had accumulated 20 unexcused absences from school by January of the school year. Rinauro said that People had failed to use the resources offered to her to help correct the truancy problem.

Bruce Chambers/Orange County Register

Buena Park police officer James Woo, left, Orange County District Attorney investigator Francisco Reynoso, center, and Buena Park police officer Luis Garcia look over their paperwork before approaching a Buena Park resident who was arrested in a truancy sweep Thursday morning.

Parent Truancy Sweep - 3

Bruce Chambers/Orange County Register

Thursday morning, parent Cheree People, 33,was handcuffed and placed under arrest by Buena Park police officers, charged with one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one misdemeanor count of failure to reasonably supervise or encourage school attendance. People's children who had accumulated 20 unexcused absences as of January.

Parent Truancy Sweep - 1

Bruce Chambers/Orange County Register

After arresting Toya Latrice Daniels, Buena Park police officer James Woo, left, walks Daniels in his patrol car for transportation to the Buena Park Police Department. Daniels was charged with one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one misdemeanor count of failure to reasonably supervise or encourage school attendance. By March of the school year, her elementary school child had accumulated 17 unexcused absences.

Bruce Chambers/Orange County Register

Thursday morning in Buena Park, Francisco Reynoso, an investigator with the Orange County District Attorney's office, uses caution as he enters the home of a parent that was arrested inside for failure to respond to numerous interventions to reduce the truancy of their elementary school child. A women was arrested and charged with one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one misdemeanor count of failure to reasonably supervise or encourage school attendance.

Bruce Chambers/Orange County Register

Thursday morning in Buena Park, Francisco Reynoso, an investigator with the Orange County District Attorney's office, accompanied Buena Park police officers as they arrested two parents for the high truancy rates of their children. Reynoso works with the Orange County Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership (OC GRIP).


Six parents were booked at Orange County Jail Thursday on charges that they failed to curb their kids’ chronic truancy.

Orange County Deputy District Attorney Frank Acosta rode along with City of Orange police when they arrested Virginia Ferrer Avila.

“It looked like she had tears in her eye but not an emotional cry," he said. "It seemed from a distance that she understood what was going on."

Prosecutors charged Avila with two misdemeanors because her middle school child had 21 unexcused absences this school year.

“We conduct truancy sweeps to try to work with the family," said Acosta. "We did home visits, welfare checks to make sure everything was going OK."

Acosta said authorities had told Avila of a state law that holds parents accountable for their kids’ truancy.

“We requested that family to try to get some parenting classes to see what we can do to help them straight the family as far as the attendance issue," he said. "She didn’t follow up on any of that.”

Avila and five other parents were booked on two misdemeanors: contributing to the delinquency of a minor and failure to reasonably supervise or encourage school attendance.

The multi-agency effort is part of a five-year old gang reduction program that targets schools with high truancy. Most parents turn around their kids’ truancy when prosecutors and police contact them. There were no arrests last year.

Jane Newman with the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office agrees that chronic truancy is a problem, but also wonders about using police and jails to solve it.

“If law enforcement’s already had meetings with these parents and told them what the consequences are, if that deterrence isn’t working then actually doing it, what does it do?" asked Newman.

"It costs the system. It adds to our court calendars that are dealing with other matters that have perhaps higher priority,” she said.

Newman praised the Orange County effort, and said a court policy to stop enforcing truancy citations of students and guide them toward counseling is working in L.A. County.
 

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