Local News

Mother Arrested After Girl Misses 3 Weeks of School

Posted March 29, 2007
Updated March 30, 2007

— A Hoke County mother arrested when her daughter missed 15 days of school said she plans to sue the county.

Jennifer Beckel was arrested at 10:30 p.m. last Friday when a deputy appeared at her rural house with a failure of attendance warrant.

"I really thought it was a joke being played on me by somebody that maybe I worked with," Beckel said. "They took me down to the jail and booked me and photographed me."

The charge was filed after Beckel's 7-year-old daughter, Makenna, missed 15 days of school at West Hoke Elementary School. But Beckel said most of the days were excused absences because her daughter had mononucleosis and strep throat and the family had a pre-approved vacation to watch her stepfather perform with the Army Golden Knights parachute team.

"Through all the paperwork mumbo-jumbo, that 15 days went down to three unexcused days," she said.

State law allows a principal to notify authorities after 10 unexcused absences in a year, but only after school administrators have alerted the parents.

Beckel said she heard from no one at West Hoke Elementary before her arrest.

"I never got any notes. I never got any phone calls," she said.

Hoke County Schools Superintendent Freddie Williamson said the district made a mistake and is investigating what he called a "breakdown in communication."

Williamson offered an apology to Beckel, but she hasn't forgiven school officials.

"It hurts because I have gone above and beyond what I should do as a parent," she said.

The mother of four has started home-schooling her daughter.


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  • Heather Apr 6, 2007

    I home school my children. My youngest daughter has never attended school and my oldest, now 10th grade, attended through 4th grade. The motives for her home schooling seem based more on emotion than common sense. Home schooling is extremely difficult and requires a huge amount of time. Illness aside, if your child has missed the maximum amount of school days they should not be attending extra-curricular activities. Also, to those who are home schooling and posting in this forum - If you cannot spell properly in a public forum you tarnish the image of home schooling greatly. Get a dictionary!

  • JustDontUnderstandPpl Apr 1, 2007

    independent_thinker...I homeschool my kid for SAFETY reasons as well as others. The day after I took my kid out of the public school system, some kids showed up with both GUNS and KNIVES, parents were dropping off their kids for another school day, the principal stood outside the school and said NOTHING to anyone. I have a sincere problem with wondering if my kid will live through what is supposed to be a NORMAL school day. Maybe you need to meet some more homeschoolers and find out the real deal.

  • JustDontUnderstandPpl Apr 1, 2007

    amy_craigslist...unsure of the point you were trying to make. Am hoping you weren't implying that homeschool moms drown their kids?

  • JustDontUnderstandPpl Apr 1, 2007

    Josie3...just read your comment. 3 weeks a little much? Do you have kids? Has one of them ever had mono? I do have kids, and one of them had mono last year. She was out of school for about 3 weeks and had a hard time with school after going back because she was sooo tired. (PS She was out of school on the MD's recommendation and the school REQUIRED clearance from the doctor before she could go back due to the contagiousness of the disease.) Mono is far from just an excuse to keep your kid at home...

  • CherryDarling Apr 1, 2007

    Missing school because of an illness is one thing...

    but there is no other reason to miss that much school - even to go watch her father parachute out of a plane.

    That's almost an entire month. That's crazy (even for a 7 year old).

  • callieg Apr 1, 2007

    Everyone needs good documenting skills, even homeschoolers.

  • callieg Apr 1, 2007

    Look my son is in Kindergarten and he has Asama and allergic to tree nut. When ever colds are going around, my son gets it worst.
    My sons teacher forgot to turn in all the Dr's notes I sent. Caused me a bunch of headaches. A social worker from the school called me, sent home notes and made me feel like I was in the wrong. I volunteer at that school at least 2 or 3 days a week. TEACHERS NEED DOCUMENTING SKILLS AND RELY LESS ON THE T.A.TO DO IT FOR THEM. If they arrested me, I'd sue the pants off them.

  • Dr.Bob Mar 30, 2007

    I can't speak for Hoke County Schools, but here in Cumberland County we notify parents at 3, 6 and 9 absences -- if we have a valid address and phone number. Far too often the address and/or phone number provided by the parent is fake.

    Nevertheless, we have had parents who use their high school aged children as babysitters while they go to the mall and participate in other "adult" activities. We have also had them take their children on "religious retreats" to Disney World, Cancun and other locations. What is an "excused" absence?

  • regularguy_nc-at-yahoo.com Mar 30, 2007

    State Sponsored Nazis...

  • sparrow Mar 30, 2007

    me-in-raeford, I do background checks every dayas an HR professional--YES the arrest IS on your record. And a lot of times the courts don't update the records to tell how your case was disposed of, so sometimes it is really tough to know if a charge was dismissed. People think these records are so accurate, AND THEY AREN'T. They depend on people entering data in the database, and some government clerks just don't have the time to do it. If you go to the courthouse, you can get a copy of that particular case and show how it was decided, but you have to do it in person, and it costs MONEY.

    I would encourage everyone to run a background check on themselves. They are often full of errors, just like your credit report can be. 123nc.com is a good place to get one as a member of the general public.