Local News

Mother Arrested After Girl Misses 3 Weeks of School

Posted March 29, 2007 5:09 p.m. EDT
Updated March 30, 2007 7:22 a.m. EDT

— 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.