JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri State Supreme Court has ruled that two moms from Lebanon failed to cause their children to attend school on a regular basis and are in violation of Missouri’s compulsory attendance law.

In an opinion handed down by the Supreme Court, the compulsory attendance law is not vague as applied to the two parents and there is sufficient evidence to support the findings.

Tamarae LaRue and Caitlyn Williams had children at Esther Elementary in Lebanon. LaRue’s child missed a total of 14 days of school by March 2022, with seven of those absences unexcused or unverified. Williams’ child missed a total of 15 days, with nine unexcused or unverified.

According to a summary of the opinion, LaRue and Williams were each sent a letter after six absences from the school advising that the children’s attendance rates were at 86% and 85%, respectively. The handbook from the school provides that the state requires students to maintain a 90% or higher attendance rate each year and instructs parents to notify the school of every absence, tardy or early withdrawal.

School officials testified the absences were affecting the children’s performance in the classroom. A school official testified she had spoken with LaRue multiple times regarding her child’s attendance.

The Laclede County Circuit Court sentenced Williams to seven days in jail. The court sentenced LaRue to 15 days in jail, suspended execution of the sentence and placed her on probation for two years.

A summary of the opinion is below:

Williams and LaRue were required to cause their children to attend the academic program on a regular basis. Both children had multiple absences for which their parents failed to provide any explanation to the school. Consequently, this nonattendance was not excused pursuant to the statute, and, in light of the notices the school provided to each parent, evidence existed to support the inference that Williams and LaRue knowingly failed to cause their child to attend school on a regular basis

Supreme Court of Missouri