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If your child is sick, but has exhausted all of his or her "sick days," what do you do? What about when you can't get a doctor's note to cover the missed classes, or the cost of one is too much to spend on a raspy cough and runny nose?
That's what Georgia mom Julie Giles faced when her fourth-grade son missed too many school days. Giles was arrested earlier this month after her son had 12 unexcused absences from school over the past year, while children in their county are allowed six unexcused absences per year, as reported in People magazine. Giles claims that her son Samuel had an additional three absences that were excused by a doctor, which would mean she was arrested over three unexcused absences.
"When a child is a successful student and they see there's no abuse or neglect, the parent should be able to write the note," Julie Giles tells People.
Giles wasn't the only parent in the 23,000-student Screven County school district to be arrested this year over unexcused absences. Superintendent William Bland said the county sheriff's office referred for further court action and arrested 12 parents, including Giles.
"We don't do it until we've exhausted all other means," Bland told People. "I do believe attendance is very important for students to learn."
Georgia law allows five unexcused absences; Screven County allows an additional five absences if a parent sends a note, Bland said. "A child can miss 10 days before anything happens."
Though Samuel is fully vaccinated, Giles said he was frequently sick this year. She said that in some cases she did take Samuel to physicians and even to the ER. Other times, she didn't want to pay the insurance co-pay if she could handle caring for her son on her own.
"I'm having a real issue with them telling me that an excuse from his mom isn't enough," Giles told People. "It's like they're saying you're not competent to judge if your own flesh and blood is too sick to go to school."
As for Samuel's grades, he's a star student who is on the honor roll and was named "Student of the Month" at Screven County Elementary School in May.
Giles faces up to seven months in jail and fines, but the hope is that her case will be thrown out of court. She is considering another school for her son, and perhaps homeschooling.