Parents in Missouri Can Be Jailed if Their Kids Skip School

( – Two Missouri mothers faced jail time after their children reportedly missed too much school. The state’s Supreme Court dismissed their appeal, opening the doors for unchallenged prosecutions of other parents. The decision came despite the fact that a judge who handed down one of the women’s sentences criticized the state’s vague laws and wanted the defendant to appeal.

The two women had sought the appeal after feeling unfairly targeted, noting that roughly one-quarter of Missouri students fail to attend 90% of their classes. One mother, Caitlyn Williams, received a warning notice from her daughter’s school after the child had missed six days of kindergarten. The absences continued, and the mother ended up serving seven days in county jail for a class C misdemeanor after her child missed a total of 16 days of school.

The Wall Street Journal, which also covered both accounts, noted that Tamarae LaRue, the other parent who pursued the appeal alongside Williams, felt harassed about her son’s attendance despite having reasonable excuses for his missed classes. The mother of four shared that the fear of prosecution led to her suffering from panic attacks over getting all her kids to separate schools on time every morning. She claims car troubles and documented illnesses due to the pandemic caused her boy to miss 15 days, which led to her receiving a 13-day jail sentence. Her punishment was later reduced to two years of probation.

The big issue behind these cases is the fact that Missouri law only states that children must attend school “regularly,” but it fails to define what that statute means. It also says parents don’t have to officially enroll little ones who are seven and under, allowing parents to opt out with a simple written notice. Given that LaRue’s and William’s kids were six and seven when the absences occurred, the rulings against them may appear even more convoluted.

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