Four parents or guardians of Iberville Parish Public School students were arrested last week for alleged failure to comply with the Louisiana Compulsory Attendance Law, and further nine arrests are expected.


Four parents or guardians of Iberville Parish Public School students were arrested last week for alleged failure to comply with the Louisiana Compulsory Attendance Law, and further nine arrests are expected.

Chief of Operations Aubrey St. Angelo of the Iberville Sheriff's Office said the School Board issued the warrants for the misdemeanor charges.

Mercedes Dore', a school system social worker, said the warrants are issued after an extended process aimed at having the parents comply with the attendance law.

“It's essential that they come to school,” Dore' said. “We can have the very best programs in math and science, but if they are not there, it doesn't help them.”

At the beginning of each school year, school personnel search the records of the previous year to identify students who had excessive absences, or a history of truancy, defined as five unexcused absences in a school semester, she said. They send out letters – as many as 300 in a year -- before school starts “to let parents know we will be watching attendance.”

Students can be excused for such documented instances as personal illness or a serious illness in their family, death in the immediate family or school system-approved travel for education. In those cases, they are allowed to make up schoolwork.

After three unexcused absences, a school principal sends a notice to a child's parents and meets with them, Dore' said.

After five unexcused absences, the parent or guardian is summoned to an administrative hearing at the Courthouse where representatives of the school system and the District Attorney's Office explain the law in detail. If a parent does not attend, truancy officer Mickey Gaudet of the Iberville Sheriff's Office visits the parent at home to explain.

“After that time, we look for students who continue to miss school unexcused,” Dore' said.

This year, they cited 13 parents for alleged violation of the law.

After their arrest, St. Angelo said, the parents are given a court date to appear before a district judge. Their bonds are preset at $500 each, he said.

Danielle Guilloy, 37, of 35025 La. 69, White Castle, was arrested on two counts of the charge, while three other women were arrested on one count each – Janell M. Ragan, 29, of 20222 Toni Lane, Plaquemine; Sharon Martin, 42, of 58648 Jetson, Plaquemine, and Natasha Williams, 29, of 33200 Bowie, White Castle.

Williams also was charged as a fugitive from Ascension Parish and a bench warrant for failure to appear to answer charges of reckless operation, driving under suspension and having no proof of insurance.

The women were booked into the Iberville Parish Jail on Wednesday, June 15, and released the same day, records showed.