A Georgia mom and substitute teacher has been arrested because her 10-year-old son, an honor roll student, had too many unexcused absences from school.
Julie Giles of Sylvania, Georgia, learned of her impending arrest the day before Mother’s Day in a certified letter informing her that her son Sam had more unexcused absences than are permitted by Screven County Elementary School.
According to Giles, her son had 12 unexcused absences but the school only allows six. Giles said for three of the other six absences she actually had doctor’s notes. She provided her own handwritten notes for the remainder.
Giles told HLN, “A parent saying their child is sick should suffice … especially when your child is an honor roll student.”
Giles explained her son had a stomach bug but she couldn’t afford to take him to the doctor to get a note.
“If you know it’s a stomach bug, you shouldn’t have to pay $20,” she argued.
The mom of two decided to turn herself in to the Screven County Sheriff’s Department, where she was shackled at the ankles and her mugshot was taken. Screven County Sheriff Mike Kile was unavailable for comment.
In a statement provided to HLN, William Bland, superintendent of Screven County Schools said, “We believe attendance is very important and students must be present to learn. Our attendance protocol meets the guidelines set forth by Georgia law and provides multiple opportunities for us to work with parents to avoid a referral to the courts. A court referral is always a last resort after all other measures have been exhausted.”
Giles, who also occasionally works as a substitute in the school district, said she has gotten a lot of support from family, friends and strangers.
“I am humbled. It has been truly overwhelming,” she said.
With all of the attention her case has received, the National Association of Parents is now offering her pro bono legal help. A GoFundMePage has also been set up for any additional expenses.
According to Giles, her family is currently weighing their options when it comes to Sam’s education. Homeschooling, private schooling and even relocation are being discussed. Sam, 10, was named “student of the month” this May.
Julia Giles is back in court July 14. She is facing up to $700 in fines and seven months in jail.