Names of absent students reported

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 2, 1999

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / October 2, 1999

ST. JAMES – After two and half months, the district attorney’s office hashanded over to the 23rd Judicial District Court the names of 17 students who have unexcused absences from St. James Parish schools.Supposedly, these 17 students were part of a planned boycott that began Aug. 18 in protest of the transfer of principal Ridgely Mitchell from St.James High School to the Learning Academy on the east bank of St. JamesParish.

According to Assistant District Attorney Thomas Kliebert, who was quoted in the St. James Parish newspaper The Enterprise but refused tocomment to other news sources, the 17 names were culled from a list of 41 names given to the district attorney’s office in mid-September by school Superintendent P. Edward Cancienne. Kliebert said 24 names were dropped from the list because they had either moved out of state, out of the district or were over the age of compulsory attendance.

Kliebert added, according to the news article, the juvenile court will begin the process of enforcing the state truancy laws for the 17 students.

Parents found guilty of allowing their children to have unexcused absences from school face parish fines of $15 a day and up to 30 days in jail.

However, Kliebert said he would not be arresting parents. On the statelevel, parents can be fined up to $15 a day, which totals $450 for 30 days of absences.

Eileen Jasmine, one of the boycott organizers, said the district attorney’s office and the school board are playing games.

“They haven’t told any of us what they are going to do,” she said.

Her children did participate in the boycott but are not on the district attorney’s list because Jasmine got a certificate for home study. But shestill doesn’t understand why the other students will be prosecuted.

“Last year,” she said, “my son was absent for 54 days, and not once did they come and ask me what the problem was. I don’t know what ishappening.”The parents are still protesting outside of St. James High School duringthe day and during all home football games.

“We’re not going anywhere,” said Jasmine.

The parents still want Mitchell back as principal of St. James High. Last month, Ridgely announced his candidacy for parish president and is running against incumbent Dale Hymel.

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