Late to School in LoCo = Misdemeanor?

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    So I was surprised to see media stories popping up yesterday reporting that Loudoun County Public Schools had brought criminal charges against parents Amy and Mark Denicore for their three children’s habitual tardiness to Waterford Elementary. You can click through and read articles at the Loudoun Times, the Washington Post,, USA Today, and WTOP. Numerous other blogs and sites have commented as well…it’s certainly struck a nerve. Based on what I’ve read in the articles, I’ve pieced together the following:

    • All three kids are under 10 and attend the same school, Waterford Elementary
    • The tardiness issue has been going on since at least last year, with combined 150 lates for all 3 kids
    • Each has been late around 25 or so times this year
    • Parents were arraigned this week and trial date is set for March 14th
    • Charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor under the state’s compulsory education law
    • LCPS says the parents were warned numerous times about the issue

    The court of public opinion has been noisy in the comments sections of these stories, and seems to be divided into two camps: there should be parental consequences for the habitual lateness, or the school system is ridiculously overreacting. My take is that there should be some sort of middle ground on this.

    There is no excuse whatsoever for your children being late to school that many times. Period.


    I don’t care how many children you have, what their ages are, whether you work or stay at home.  The habitual late arrivals are a disruption to the teacher, the classmates, and to the children themselves.  I say this as a mom of four children who have not been late more than once or twice, each, their entire school careers. And mine are split between two schools. (I’m also the child of a retired high school teacher.)

    Of course it’s hard and crazy and requires a lot of coordination, scheduling, cajoling, and hustling. Welcome to parenting a large family.

    That being said, I’m amazed that the school system took the step to bring criminal charges against the parents. I’ve never heard of this happening anywhere across the country before. I’m curious what Loudoun County schools did to help these parents before they filed charges. What type of warnings were issued? Did they try to help the parents with this at the school level?

    I’m parked and following this story; if anyone can provide some insight into what steps were taken before the charges were filed, I think we’d all love to hear it.


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    5 Responses to “Late to School in LoCo = Misdemeanor?”

    • Justine Kneeland via Facebook

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      I’m not sure about the elementary level, but I know on the high school level there are tons of steps taken, including multiple phone calls and meetings to try to work with the family prior to having the schools interact with the court system.

    • Justine Kneeland via Facebook

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      Well, parents are legally responsible for their kids attendance, which can be both good and bad. There’s a difference between a kid who just refuses to go to school regardless of what their patents say/do, and a parent who doesn’t enforce school attendance. 30 tardies is a lot, even if it’s only by a few minutes. Everyone can have a few off days. For example, I get on Lily all of the time to get ready and not play so that I can be on time for work, but sometimes that doesn’t happen and I’m late occasionally, but I have to take responsibility for that. It’s my job as a parent to get up a little earlier because I know it takes her 20 minutes to eat a bowl of cereal. I’m sure that the schools want to be in court as little as possible, but sometimes it’s the only way that parents see the bigger picture. Sometimes consistent tardiness is a sign of much bigger neglect issues in the home. Sorry for the long reply, but doing what I do for a living, I wish more parents were held accountable earlier so that I don’t see those kids on my caseload later, wondering why no one caught the early warning signs of a kid headed for trouble.

    • Susi VR

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      If you look at LCPS bus transportation schedules a bus is provided to pick these kids up at 7:26 every morning, at their front door (BTW) and it arrives at the school 4 minutes later. The first child on the run is picked up before 7am. Seems unfair that the first child must get on the bus so much earlier only so the ones at the end of the run don’t show up. Seems unfair and wasteful that the county uses resources to provide transportation for these children and it is not utilized. Isn’t this what the county has done to help these folks get to school on time? How come no one has explored the issue of why the mom “must drive the kids or walk them the three blocks” to school instead of taking the bus taxpayers pay for?

    • Erv Addison

      Written on

      Isn’t it interesting that a parent who permits her children to be repeatedly tardy by a few minutes to school is subject to criminal charges and arrest while a sub-par teacher who wastes 90 minutes of 25 students’ class time day after day suffers not at all.

      Kinda reminiscent of that old tree falling in the woods conundrum.


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