Mother Faces Jail Time for Autistic Son’s Truancy

January 6, 2012  |  

This school year, Andria Black’s autistic son has racked up 16 days worth of absences, made up of 10-minute tardy’s and sick days. Now those absences may also add up to jail time for the 9-year-old’s mother.

Andria claims her son’s special needs affect the time she is able to get him to school in the morning but after three  years of trying to work something out, the Fitzgerald school district in Macomb County, MI, has turned Andria’s case over to the Macomb Country Intermediate School District, where the truancy officer is prosecuting her on charges that could lead to 90 days in jail and place her son in foster care.

“There has been an ongoing situation with this mother and at some point when things don’t change it has to go to court, our number one priority is educating kids,” M.I.S.D Deputy Superintendent Don Bollinger, says.

But is jail the way to get that message across? Andria obiously doesnt think so, saying some mornings her son will just shut down and not want to go to school. “If they need to reprimand me or he needs to make it up in summer school or something that’s fine, but jail time is not the answer.”

Instead of jail time, what this 27-year-old mother needs is parenting classes or a support group to help her figure out how to deal with her son’s special needs. Punishing her with jail time can’t do that.

Yesterday, Andria and her attorney requested a jury trial and they’re also hoping to focus the case on the number of absences her son has had this school year and not from the past three years. Her lawyer says it’s too difficult for Andria to recall why her son was absent or late on a particular day a few years ago.

Do you think this mother should serve jail time for her son’s truancy?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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