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Mom punished for school attendance

By Kianga Kelley
Published On: Apr 23 2013 06:56:45 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 23 2013 05:00:00 PM CDT
AYDEN -

   A Pitt County mother claims she was wrongly charged and then found guilty of allowing her daughter to violate a school attendance law.  Christine Gray's 14 year old daughter Samantha has a long medical history, which includes autism, glaucoma, mental retardation, and epilepsy.

Last year her daughter missed 89 days of school and 50 this year at Ayden Middle School. Gray was found guilty earlier this year for violating the State's Compulsory Attendance Law,despite the schools knowledge of her daughter’s medical history. The school said over ten of those days was unexcused absences.

“It's not a case of she' skipping school to hang out with her buddies, she's sick,” said Gray.

Even though Gray said she's shown proof from doctors, she was given a 45 day suspension, a 12 month supervised probation, and a $600 fine. If her daughter has any more unexcused absences, she could go to jail.

“It’s overwhelming. I don't even get a speeding ticket and now I'm in trouble,” said Gray. “When Samantha is sick, if she doesn't go to school I have to have her in a doctor’s office by lunch time or it’s gonna be considered unexcused.”

According to documents at Ayden Middle School, Gray has to provide the date and diagnoses for whatever her daughter was seen for. However, Gray said providing that much information violates HIPPA Laws.

The Pitt County School Board released this statement : “The Compulsory Attendance Laws leave some room for social services and the court to work with the families and schools, but there is no option for schools to make decisions of their own when it comes to this law.”

“This law is not gray, there's no gray area. It's just black and white. it's truly a bad law.

"I just feel like the Government is telling me how to parent my child when this child has a history of missing a lot of days of school, said Gray.”