Sunday, February 23, 2014

"I Had Done Nothing Wrong But Be Sick"

Lucas Maynard was only 12 when the sheriff served him with papers accusing him of being “a juvenile who is habitually truant from home or school and deports himself in a manner so as to injure or seriously endanger the morals or health of himself or others.”  Lucas's absences were all excused by his school since they were either due to illness or to days when the roads were impassable because of heavy snow (the Maynards lived in a rural area 12 miles from their school).  Thinking the charges had to be a mistake, Lucas's parents went to court with their doctor's notes, assuming everything would be straightened out quickly.  Imagine their shock when their son was separated from them, placed between a prosecutor and a guardian ad litem, and told by the judge he might be taken from his parents.  Lucas writes about this frightening experience in his letter to the Judiciary Committee.

Dear Members of the Judiciary Committee;

My parents and I are in support for the changes to the attendence law and the new proposed amendments. We want to see an end to the stories of children and their families being taking into court by county attorneys for being sick from school like I was this past year.

I had done nothing wrong but be sick and then to have my name given to a deputy county attorney who didn't even know me or my family and then he filed papers against me. He didn't even talk to my principal or my mom or dad about why I was missing school.

He just sent a deputy to my house with the papers for me and my parents and I was told if I didn't go to court I would go to jail. I was very scared. But my mom said not to worry.

But when we did go to court, they made me sit at a table with guys I didn't know and the judge had the charges read to me about things I hadn't done and then told me if I was guilty I would be taken away from my parents. I was asked if I understood all of this lawyer talk but I didn't even though I said I did.

It took my mom and the help of others to get the county attorney to drop the charges so I did not have to go to court again but we still had to deal with the law this year as I became sick again.

Please fix this law so kids like me who are sick don't have to go to court or have to deal with cops and lawyers.

Lucas Maynard
Gurley, Nebraska

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