Fighting For You: Student’s Mother Questions School District’s Attendance Policy

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Most adults go to work.  State law requires all children ages 6-17 go to school. School districts have attendance policies, but a Lauderdale County parent says her child’s school district isn’t sticking to theirs. Hallie Cravens asked WHNT NEWS 19 to help with her situation.

Cravens’ child has 10 unexcused absences. The district’s requires a parent goes to court at that point.

Matthew Lindsey is six. His mom, Cravens, says there’s not much difference between Matthew and other boys his age.

“He’s rambunctious. He is into all things boy,” said Cravens.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spiderman, DragonBallz, you name it, Matthew has it. Cravens believes her son is missing out on one thing more important than everything in her home: an education.

“They are allowing him to miss excessively and taken him in very late,” added Cravens.

Matthew’s father has primary custody of him.

“Matthew lives with his Dad and he comes to visit with me,” Cravens said. “Dad makes all the primary decisions.”

Cravens says her son’s father is not getting the Brooks Elementary School student to school. School documents show the first-grader has 10 unexcused absences, two excused absences and 15 tardies.  Cravens claims she raised a flag about her son’s absences earlier in the school year.

“They said he had to accumulate five unexcused absences before anything could happen. We are well past the five,” said Cravens.

The attendance policy for Lauderdale County Schools requires an early warning conference with a parent when a child reaches their fifth absence. Cravens says she’s solely focused on her child’s future.

“With him being first grade, it is not kindergarten or the first grade we know. They are starting standardized testing earlier and earlier. Each day he misses is another step behind,” added Cravens.

Cravens could not get a response from her child’s principal or superintendent. WHNT NEWS 19’s Venton Blandin decided to stop by the superintendent’s office.

However, the superintendent declined our request for an interview.  William Valentine leaves office this week, and a new superintendent takes over in January.

“I don’t have much faith. Granted, we elected a new superintendent, but at the time same time, this has been an ongoing problem since the first week of school,” said Cravens.  “They’ve had four months to address this.”

While the superintendent didn’t walk to talk with me, the attendance officer did. WHNT NEWS 19 discovered school officials warned the boy’s dad about legal action in November.

WHNT NEWS 19 has talked with Cravens since the interview. She knows the school district has filed a complaint against her child’s father. Cravens and the school district are working together regarding the complaint. Cravens told WHNT NEWS 19 she could not go into detail.

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