Two Harford County parents were sentenced to jail Friday for failing to send their children to school.
Harford District Court Judge Victor Butanis ordered Robyn Batts to spend two days in jail and Bobbie Shannon to serve three days in jail.
Both parents were taken to the Harford County Detention Center.
According to information released by Harford State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly, the evidence showed that the Batts child missed 50 days of school in 2000, 23 in 2001 and 19 days as of December of last year.
Shannon's child was absent or tardy 84 days during the past school year.
According to the court documents, Batts repeatedly failed to respond to school officials' efforts to contact her or resolve the problem.
The court records show that both students attended Magnolia Middle School.
"The aim of the program is not to get parents in jail but to get kids in school," Cassilly said, "but hopefully this will serve as an incentive."
Court records listed Batts' address in the 1500 block of Harford Square Drive in Edgewood. Shannon's address was listed in the 400 block of Sedgemore Court, also in Edgewood.
The cases were brought as part of a joint initiative between Harford County public schools and the Harford County state's attorney's office to hold parents responsible when their children are repeatedly absent from school.
"It is very important for the criminal prosecutor to be working closely with the schools on this problem," Cassilly said, "because once these children fall behind their peers, they drop out of school. Then they are more likely to engage in criminal behavior, get involved in drugs and alcohol and have problems as adults."
Cassilly said the program involves a warning letter from the state's attorney's office telling parents to resolve the issue or face criminal charges.
"If we have to take them to court, then we are going to seek imprisonment. And on the cases we have prosecuted so far, the judges have agreed," Cassilly said.
This is the third time in a year that parents have been sent to jail in the county for failing to send their children to school, Cassilly said.
Several other cases are pending, he said, and are scheduled to go to trial shortly.