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6 Orange County parents arrested for students' repeat truancy

April 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Six parents were arrested Thursday in Orange County after authorities say they allowed their children to be chronically truant.

Authorities say the parents ignored repeated warnings, offers of counseling and parenting classes.

"The message is we are here for you to work with you, but we will hold you accountable if you do not comply with the law," said Orange County Deputy District Attorney Tamika Williams.

Mid-morning, police tracked down Gustavo Martinez Sr., 48, who was on the job, 30 feet up a tree in Anaheim. The landscaper was placed under arrest. Earlier in the morning, Martinez's 37-year-old wife Maria was arrested outside their Santa Ana apartment. The two are accused of failing to make sure their son goes to school.

Authorities say the fifth grader has had 12 unexcused absences since January. His 15-year-old sister has yet to be enrolled in school this year.

"Our goal is to keep kids in school and away from gangs," said Williams.

The arrests were performed by the Orange County Gang Reduction Intervention Partnership, or GRIP teams, which include police, prosecutors and probation. GRIP identifies at-risk children who have missed more than 10 percent of the school year.

"If you're in a gang-infested neighborhood and you're not getting an education, your opportunities are that much more circumscribed and they're being recruited by these gangs," said Williams.

Police also arrested Toni Marie Aranda in Garden Grove. Authorities allege the 32-year-old is indifferent about her kids' education for some reason. Her son is in the second grade, and her daughter is in the fifth grade.

"These kids have a history of chronic truancy and this year alone over 20 absences approaching 30," said Williams.

The parents were each charged with one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one misdemeanor count of failure to reasonably supervise or encourage school attendance. They could face up to one year in jail and $2500 in fines if convicted. Authorities are hoping the arrests serve as a wakeup call.


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