Police: Mother charged after nine-year-old misses 43 days of school

Demetria Qahhaar-Smith

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.—A mother has been charged after a nine-year-old missed 43 days of school and was late 28 times during a single school year, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Demetria Qahhaar-Smith, 29, has been charged with neglect of a dependent, a level 6 felony. She is due in court on August 29.

During the 2018-19 school year, South Bend Community School Corporation employees reported that Qahhaar-Smith’s nine-year-old daughter, a third-grade student, had accumulated 43 unexcused school absences and 28 tardies, according to court documents.

School staff reported that when the nine-year-old did attend school, staff members were concerned for the girl’s academic development, court documents said.

Staff reported notifying Qahhaar-Smith in person of absences and tardies on October 12, but the missed school continued, court documents said.

South Bend Community School Corporation Spokesperson George Jones commented on students missing school in a statement unrelated to the charges against Qahhaar-Smith:

"Excessive absenteeism is, of course, a serious issue -- if students aren't in school, they're not learning. We want our students in school. Our policy currently states that a student is considered "habitually truant" if he or she incurs more than ten unexcused absences per year."

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