LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Earlier today, District Attorney Mark D’Antonio announced that 12 parents were convicted on truancy charges after appearing before District Judge Marci Beyer for failing to see that their children attend school.
During today’s docket, 12 parents pleaded no contest to charges of Failure to Enforce Compulsory School Attendance and four cases were rescheduled. Two parents failed to appear at Wednesday’s hearing and the judge issued bench warrants for their arrest. Assistant District Attorney Samuel Olmstead, a senior trial attorney, prosecuted the cases on behalf of the state.
“As a parent, I understand the many challenges parents face in assuring that their children attend school,” D’Antonio said. “Nevertheless, the statistics are clear. There is a direct link between students who don’t finish school and those who end up in prison later in life. There is a direct link to adult poverty. Our aim is to break that cycle.”
Under New Mexico law, the parent or guardian of a school-aged child is responsible for his or her school attendance. However, a prosecution is typically pursued when parents fail to address the issues with school officials. Wednesday’s truancy docket was the fifth prosecuted this year by the District Attorney’s Office, as part of an ongoing partnership with Las Cruces Public Schools and the Gadsden Independent School District.
“Our intent is not to be punitive, but to convey the importance of education,” D’Antonio said.
In New Mexico, a person convicted of truancy is guilty of a petty misdemeanor. However, repeated offenses can lead to jail time. At Wednesday’s hearing, one parent was convicted on a second offense. She was placed on probation for six months, plus court-ordered services through the public school system.
For further information or interview requests, please contact Damien Willis, Public Information Officer, at 575-915-5954.