Missouri High Court Hears Case of Bootheel Woman in Daughters' School Absences

SEPTEMBER 16, 2004 - Posted at 7:11 a.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The State Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday on the constitutionality of a law that holds parents liable when their children miss school.

Brenda Self was convicted of a misdemeanor last fall after her 15-year-old daughter was absent 40 days during one school year in Caruthersville.  The mother got a suspended sentence and two years of probation.

Self contends the school attendance law is unconstitutinally vague.  She notes that it doesn't define "regular" attendance, nor specify how many absences can trigger criminal charges.

Self's attorney says 23 of the girl's absences had been excused, and said that she was pregnant at the time.

The high court questioned why her pregnancy wasn't raised at the trial.

The justices will have a decision later.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)