LONG BEACH, Calif.–The 43-year-old mother of a middle school student was arrested because of her son’s irregular attendance in school, a violation of a new truancy law in Long Beach.
Ermila Zamora was arrested Monday after school officials noticed the boy had missed more than 20 days of school, said Rico Fernandez of the Long Beach Police Department.
“Following the LBUSD’s School Attendance Review Board process, no improvement was made on the student’s attendance and the case was presented to the city prosecutor’s office who in turn set up and held five meetings which included the Long Beach Police Department, the Long Beach Unified School District and the student’s mother,” Fernandez said.
Several months passed with no improvement and the city prosecutor’s office ordered Zamora’s arrest, Fernandez said.
By the time she was arrested, her son had more than 50 days of unexcused absences. Investigators also said Zamora was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor in 2007 for failing to ensure the attendance in school of her older son.
Zamora’s arrest is the first for this violation since a new law went into effect this year regarding chronic student truancy, Fernandez said. The law, which covers kindergarten through eighth grade, says students may not have more than 10 percent of unexcused absences in the 175-day school year.
“We are taking school truancy seriously,” Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert said in a statement. “Police officers and school officials are doing everything they can to keep kids in school and out of trouble, and if parents are unwilling to take responsibility themselves, then we will take action against the parents.”
Violation of the new law can subject parents to criminal prosecution of a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.