Should Parents Stand Trial for Making Their Kids Late to School?

Whether they should or not, it’s happening in northern Virginia. The kids in question are frequently late, but only by three minutes or less most of the time.


The Loudoun County couple was arraigned Monday morning in juvenile and domestic relations court. Judge Pamela L. Brooks set a trial date of March 14.

The Denicores are each charged with three Class 3 misdemeanors, each of which carries a maximum fine of $500. Their three children, ages 6, 7 and 9, have been late to school almost 30 times since September. Most of their tardies were three minutes or less.

Their case has sparked debate about whether the school system is overreacting to a minor offense or rightly clamping down on a habit that’s disruptive to teachers and other students.

I’m sure it has. There’s no hint of anything in the nature of abuse here. It’s frequent tardiness. We live in a time when tax law is so complex most of us need accountants or special software to deal with it. Election law is so complex you cannot run for office without some level of lawyering; that’s among the reasons far too many politicians are lawyers. Now, with this case, you can’t even send your kids to the public school that your tax dollars pay for without needing some lawyering.


In this case, the parents are lawyers themselves.

The Denicores — both of whom are trained as lawyers — argue that whatever one’s opinion of their parenting, the county has no legal authority to convict them of a crime.

They are charged under the state’s compulsory education law, §22.1-254, which says parents have to send their kids to school “for the same number of days and hours per day” as school is in session.

This seems like a pretty big overreach, a waste of the public’s money to pursue otherwise law-abiding people, and may end up in the school district getting sued in return. Am I missing something here?


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