Appeal hearing set for woman jailed over daughter's truancy

A woman whose 13-year-old daughter cut class 103 times will appeal her conviction for not preventing it to District Judge Mike Fondi on Feb. 29.

Mari Jo Bailey, 41, is the first person prosecuted under the 1997 law that makes parents criminally liable for habitually truant children. The teen was declared habitually truant and Bailey arrested on misdemeanor charges. She was convicted Nov. 21 and Justice of the Peace Robey Willis sentenced her to a month in jail with all but two days suspended.

She appealed the conviction to district court where Fondi will hear legal arguments on the case in February.

"There's something wrong with the way the statute was written given the facts of this case," said Bailey's lawyer Chet Kafchinski.

Eagle Valley Middle School Vice Principal Fred Perdomo declared the teen an "habitual truant" after she missed school from January to May. Under the law, anything over three absences could result in charges against the parents.

Tilisa May of the Family Resource Center testified Bailey was given at least two chances to correct her daughter's lack of attendance. May said the center has been in contact with the Bailey family since 1996.

Kafchinski said during the trial the duties of being a single parent to five children made it virtually impossible for Bailey to ensure her daughter was attending school. And Bailey testified she was working a 12-hour graveyard shift at the time.

Bailey's daughter testified the absences were against her mother's consent and that even when dropped on the school's front steps, she would leave rather than go to class.

But Deputy District Attorney Jason Woodbury said the woman has a duty to know where her child is on school days and make sure she attends class.

Bailey's is one of two parental truancy cases in Carson City under the new law. Nancy Ann Winn, 42, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges that she failed to make her 11-year-old daughter attend school. Her six-month sentence was suspended. The girl in that case, who was absent 59 times last year, is reportedly getting excellent grades at her new school and maintaining a perfect attendance record so far this year.


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