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Pennsylvania

March 18, 2002
Commonwealth v. Ms. O
Mother convicted of violation of compulsory school attendance law

Filed: May 15, 2001, Lehigh County.

Nature of Case: Though this mother of a special needs child filed a complete notarized affidavit at the same time she withdrew him from the public school, the judge found her guilty of violation of compulsory attendance for the days between her filing and the school official's acknowledgment that her filing was complete. The day after her affidavit was received, a school official called Ms. O to tell her that she had omitted a paragraph. He wanted a statement included to reflect the fact that her son had been identified as a child in need of special education services. He then told Ms. O that she need only get the amended affidavit to him within the next week because he would be out of the office. She mailed it four days later on May 11. The official returned from vacation on May 15 and notified Ms. O by letter dated May 16 that her documentation was complete.

Ruling: Despite the fact that the additional statement is not required by statute, on June 13, 2001, the court found Mrs. O guilty of violating the compulsory school attendance law from the time of the child's withdrawal (May 5) until the amended affidavit was received by the school district (May 12). She was fined $125 for the four-day violation.

Status: While the appeal was pending in the Court of Common Pleas, the Commonwealth dropped the charges based on a statute requiring judges to dismiss petty infractions.

Last Updated: March 18, 2002.

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