Muskegon Heights mom jailed for kids’ truancy

Muskegon County
Amanda Crowell booking photo

A June 17, 2019 booking photo of Amanda Crowell of Muskegon Heights. (Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office)

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A Muskegon Heights mother whose two children missed school numerous times is in jail, the Muskegon County prosecutor’s office confirms.

A Muskegon County judge last week sentenced 36-year-old Amanda Crowell to 12 days in jail for truancy, court records show.

Muskegon County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Maat says during the 2017-2018 and the 2018-2019 school years, Crowell’s 8-year-old child racked up 83 unexcused absences and her high schooler had 111 unexcused hours — not including excused absences.

Maat says both Fruitport High School and Edgewood Elementary School tried to work with Crowell to ensure her children were in class. High school administrators sent several letters to Crowell and met with her on multiple occasions, Maat confirmed. He said Edgewood Elementary School also sent letters to Crowell and offered to meet with her.

Maat says the schools then contacted the prosecutor’s office, which also sent two letters to Crowell and met with her.

In April 2018, Crowell signed a contract vowing her children wouldn’t miss any additional classes. About a month later, the elementary school notified the prosecutor’s office that the youngest child was still missing school, which led to the charge.

In August, Crowell agreed to a plea deal. She would plead guilty to truancy and the charge would be dismissed if she got assistance and kept both kids in school.

However, court records show Crowell missed her sentencing on the truancy charge, leading to a bench warrant for her arrest.

She was finally sentenced June 17, court records indicate.

In a statement regarding Crowell’s truancy sentence, the prosecutor’s office said chronic truancy puts children at higher risk of unemployment, drug use, committing a violent crime and ending up in prison.

The prosecutor’s office says parents dealing with truancy have resources, including Health West, Family Resource Centers and their agency.

“Prosecution in truancy cases is always a last resort. Those few parents who repeatedly refuse to make reasonable efforts will face criminal charges because depriving a child of an education is criminal neglect that hurts our entire community.

“Even after charges are filed, incarceration occurs only when parents repeatedly refuse to take reasonable steps to address the problem and then disobey court orders. In such extreme cases, the only remaining course is to intervene on behalf of the child and our community and hold that parent accountable. As a community, we simply cannot afford to ignore chronic truancy. The consequences are too serious and too longstanding,” the prosecutor’s office stated.

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