Mom Jailed For Kids' Truancy; Hanford Mother Sentenced To 180 Days
HANFORD, Calif. (KMPH) —
A South Valley mom is behind bars, being punished for not sending her kids to school.
Kings County school officials say the Hanford mother had plenty of chances to avoid going to jail - now, she'll be locked up for months.
34-year-old Lorraine Cuevas was sentenced to 180 days in jail after pleading guilty to allowing her kids to miss more than 10-percent of the school year.
It's against California's chronic truancy law.
Cuevas is one of the first parents in the state to be convicted under the law.
The mother had a second and third grader enrolled at Monroe Elementary school, between the two of them, they missed 116 days of school last year.
The superintendent says Cuevas ignored phone calls and letters warning her of the consequences.
"It's a process that takes months to get to this point. On average we're making 15-20 calls in dealing with these issues," said Tim Bowers, superintendent of Kings County Schools.
Cuevas was arrested nearly two months ago and has already served about a quarter of her sentence.
"What kind of a mother is she?" said Adriana Castaneda, mother. She feels the judge should've handed down the maximum sentence of one year in jail.
"I would've given her a year. Honestly, I think that punishment is not enough because a kid's education is really important," said Castaneda.
This is the second time Kings County officials have jailed a mom for her kids' truancy.
Last year Victoria Jeff was arrested for failing to bring her three kids to school, causing them to miss 20 days.
School officials say right now, there are a handful of parents in Kings County that may face similar prosecution.
Administrators and prosecutors say they won't hesitate in bringing another parent to justice.
"We take attendance very seriously, and we really want our kids to be in school," said Bowers.
This isn't the first time Cuevas has been arrested.
She does have a criminal history but the Kings County D.A.'s office wouldn't go into detail.
The maximum sentence for parents convicted under California's chronic truancy law is a fine of up to $2,000 or up to a year in jail, or a combination of both.
As for Cuevas' kids, school officials say their attendance record is good this school year.