Most parents manage to get their kids to school on time, but the parents ofthree little ones in Virginiahave not. And, wow, are they being punished for it. They've been hauled intocourt and charged with a crime.
The penalty may seem extreme. But so does the tardiness in this case. Duringthe school year's first semester, Sophie, Daisy, and Tucker Denicore were late30 times. That's once every three days.
The Denicores live just about a mile from the school, but say there's alwayssome hang-up: one kid can't find her pants, another won't eat breakfast, andthe third won't brush his teeth.
School records show in most of the cases, the family was late by threeminutes or less. But the school says even that disrupts class. It also saysbefore referring the matter to court, it sent the parents two certified lettersand tried to set up a meeting, but the parents refused to show up.
The Denicores say charging them with a crime is overkill.
A Chicagoschool principal we talked with tonight agreed that being even one-minute latecan be a big disruption for a class, and especially the student walking in.
The Denicores are charged with violating Virginia's education law, which says parentsmust send their kids to school every day, and every hour, that school is insession. They face fines totaling three-thousand dollars if they're foundguilty.
But they're fighting back. They say the education law is not mean forcracking down on tardiness, but rather to ensure parents enroll their kids inschool.
Officials at Chicago Pubic Schools say, legally, they can refer matters ofattendance-problems and similar issues to criminal prosecutors. But about threeyears ago, they adopted a policy of not doing it.