Five people were arrested this morning in what the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) hails as its first case against the parents of children who have been chronically truant despite repeated warnings from cops and schools.
The parents--who face probation, jail and/or fines if convicted--have children in the Magnolia, Orange Unified and Capistrano Unified school districts.
Under state law, school-aged children must be enrolled in and attend school. Failure to comply can draw juvenile-court proceedings for children and criminal prosecution for parents.
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Today's arrests were made by officers from OCDA, the Orange Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff's Department and the Orange County Probation Department, which are part of the Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership (GRIP), which identifies at-risk youth and aims to increase school attendance and decrease gang activity.
All the parents were popped after their kids were dropped off at school and released on their own recognizance in time to ensure the students get picked up by this afternoon's final bell.
Here is how the OCDA described today's arrestees in a statement:
Defendants Ayman and Alice Haddadin
Alice Haddadin, 45, and her husband Ayman Haddadin, 47, have a middle-school student in the Capistrano Unified School District. By April 2011, the defendants' child had accumulated 12 unexcused absences during the current school year. Beginning in December 2010, Ayman and Alice Haddadin were sent four separate notices by the school and school district requesting contact and setting up a meeting to discuss the attendance problem. The defendants are accused of failing to respond or attend the meeting. The defendants are accused of having additional knowledge that their son had attendance problems because the minor was subject to GRIP truancy sweeps in January 2010 and 2011 and the parents were advised that they could be prosecuted for continuing to fail to have their child attend school. Ayman and Alice Haddadin are accused of allowing their child to have attendance problems dating back three school years.
Defendants Porfirio Ascencio and Natividad Arteaga
Arteaga, 34, and her ex-husband Ascencio, 43, have a middle school student in the Orange Unified School District. The defendants' are accused of failing to enroll their child in the middle school for the first three weeks of the school year. By May 2011, the defendants' child had accumulated 10 unexcused absences and 28 late arrivals. The defendants are accused of having knowledge that their child had attendance problems by completing an attendance review board meeting, where they were informed about State attendance laws. They are accused of having a separate personal meeting with a police officer, who advised the defendants that their child's continued attendance problems could result in prosecution of the parents.
Defendant Claudia Diaz Perez
Perez, 41, has an elementary school student in the Magnolia School District. By May 2011, the defendant's child had accumulated 30 absences during the school year, eight of which were unexcused and the remaining were "sick" days that were not justified with a doctor's note. Perez is accused of having knowledge that her child had attendance problems because she has met multiple times with a teacher from the school regarding the issue and has had personal contact with a police officer regarding her child's attendance. Perez is accused of allowing her son to have attendance and tardiness problems going back to the 2nd grade.
The parents are scheduled to be arraigned in Santa Ana on June 7 on misdemeanor charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. If convicted, they could get probation, up to a year in jail each and $2,500 in fines.