Wayne County truancy case ends with hung jury

WAYNE, W.Va. (WYMT/WSAZ) - A first of its kind trial is underway in Wayne County. A mother is facing a judge and jury because her first grade son missed so much school.

About 6 p.m. Monday, the case resulted in a hung jury, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office. That means a verdict was not reached.

While the case involves just a misdemeanor charge, the mother Shawna Gray requested a jury trial. The reasons for that are unclear.

It's not her first run in with the school board regarding attendance. Last year, the same child missed more than 50 days. Depending on the outcome of the trial, she could spend up to 20 days in jail.

Gray says her child’s absences are due to asthma and heart problems.

The school district couldn't comment on this case specifically, but the assistant superintendent says attendance has to be a priority.

“If kids aren't in school, we can't teach them,” Assistant Superintendent Lynn Hurt said. “It also starts work habits. They learn that they have to be somewhere. They learn that they have to be responsible with their books and things like that. It goes a long way with a lot of things.”

While the school district doesn't expect more cases like this to go to trial, there is a very important message to parents:

“Bottom line, come to school,” Hurt said.

“And for parents of kids who legitimately can't be there?” Lauren Schmoll from our sister station WSAZ asked.

“Follow the process so that we have the paperwork that we need in a timely fashion,” Hurt said.

The school district says it has options for parents in cases like this, including a program where teachers will come to the home if a child is too ill to go to school.

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