Mom jailed after child misses 26 days of school

Brittany Ann Horton, 27, was ordered to spend five days behind bars.

November 29, 2018, 4:08 PM

A Michigan mom was jailed this month after her young child missed over two dozen days of school without any valid excuse, prosecutors said.

A Muskegon County judge on Nov. 16 ordered Brittany Ann Horton to spend five days behind bars and be placed on probation for nine months after the 27-year-old mother pleaded guilty to truancy in May. Horton's sentencing was postponed because prosecutors wanted to give her one last chance to fix the problem, according to the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office.

Muskegon County's undersheriff, Kenneth Sanford, confirmed to ABC News that Horton served those days in prison.

"Our office does not file charges against parents who are genuinely trying to resolve the issues. The vast majority of chronic truancy cases never end up in court," Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson said in a statement obtained by ABC News Thursday. "However, when parents like Ms. Horton refuse to make reasonable efforts to address the truancy problem, our office is committed to making sure the children of our community are not deprived of an education."

Horton did not immediately return ABC News' request for comment.

The school sent multiple letters home to Horton beginning in October 2017 and scheduled a parent meeting regarding her 6-year-old daughter's unexcused absences. Horton never showed. On Jan. 22, the school referred the case to prosecutors.

Then in February, the Muskegon County Prosecutor's Office followed up with Horton, attempting to resolve the attendance issues without court involvement by sending a letter and scheduling a meeting. But Horton never responded or showed up, prosecutors said.

This stock photo depicts an empty classroom.
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The prosecutor's office filed a charge of truancy against Horton on March 5 but she failed to appear for her arraignment after posting bond. The court subsequently issued a bench warrant for her.

At that time, Horton's daughter had at least 26 unexcused absences from school, according to prosecutors.

On May 17, Horton pleaded guilty upon an agreement with prosecutors that the charge would be dismissed if she worked with school and service providers to resolve the issue. The court delayed her sentencing to give her time to do so.

By then, her daughter had missed an additional 14 days of school with unexcused absences, according to prosecutors. It's unclear how many more days of school the girl missed after her mother's sentencing.

Hilson said his office, the school and service providers were ready to offer whatever was necessary to "address barriers in getting her child to school," including transportation, day care arrangements, counseling and mental health services.

"Our office is committed to doing anything possible to help parents resolve truancy problems. Filing charges is always a last resort after all other attempts to help a parent have been rejected," Hilson said. "Had Ms. Horton met with us, the school or service providers, she would have been provided any services needed to address any possible issues."