Supreme Court Reverses Conviction of Caruthersville Woman Whose Daughter Violated School Attendance Laws

FEBRUARY 16, 2005 - Posted at 8:09 a.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Missouri Supreme Court has reversed the misdemeanor conviction of a woman whose daughter missed 40 out of 102 days at a middle school.

Brenda Self of Caruthersville had been given a 15-day suspended sentence for violating Missouri's compulsory attendance law.  The law permits criminal charges against parents who fail to make sure their children attend school "regularly."

The Supreme Court yesterday threw out the conviction, saying prosecutors failed to prove that Self knowingly broke the law.  The court said 23 of the daughter's absences had been excused, and that some occured because of the 15-year-old girl's pregnancy.

Self had challenged the parent liability law itself, arguing it was unconstitutionally vague.  But the high court declined to address that issue.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)