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The mother of a Howard County, Md., high-school student who missed 85 days of school last year became the third parent to be jailed for violating the state's compulsory-attendance law.

Virginia Newman, the mother of a 9th-grade student, was ordered by District Judge Diane C. Schulte to stay overnight in jail as a penalty for her failure to ensure her daughter's attendance.

School officials in the 24,000-student suburban-Washington district said that the case was turned over to the court after the normal remedies--telephone calls, referrals, and visits--failed to produce the desired result, which was "to get the girl in school on a regular basis,'' according to John G. Freudenberger, assistant public-information officer for the district.

It was the first time that penalty had been used in Howard County, according to Sharon Johnson, director of pupil services for the system. She said that the district had two other cases in the last three years in which judges had threatened to fine the parents of chronic truants $50 each day the child was absent from school.

In both cases, she said, the students had returned to school and had almost perfect attendance.

Ms. Johnson said that in this case, it was more appropriate to penalize the mother than the child. But, she added of truancy cases, "It's not a blaming situation.

"It's just that the child has a right to an education, and the parent has an obligation to make sure she gets that education. It's not really negotiable."


Kansas City Votes Sales-Tax Increase To Benefit Schools


Kansas City, Mo., voters approved a one-half cent increase in the local sales tax early this month to raise $17.5 million for schools and an additional $17.5 million to repair streets, bridges, and park facilities.

Some 59 percent of the voters approved the measure.

The new one-cent tax will increase the city's total sales tax to 6 percent, according to an aide to City Councilman Jerry Riffel.

The increase goes into effect on Jan. 1.

Without the additional revenues from the tax, educators argued, the district would have been forced to increase student-teacher ratios, cut elective programs, and lay off some personnel.

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