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Parents of truants have day in court

ROCHESTER - A handful of parents and guardians decided Monday to take a class with their child and avoid a fine as part of a new program to encourage "chronically truant" students to attend school.

They were among the first truancy cases to appear before a Rochester District Court judge since the option took effect Jan. 1.

One parent failed to show in court, while two others pleaded not guilty and will return for a trial later next month. They could face a first-time fine of $250, according to officials.

Under the new program, parents of truant students must appear in court, where they choose between going to trial - which could end with a maximum fine of $1,000 - or take four, hour-long classes with their child.

The program is intended to target the most drastic cases of students who fail to go to school.

The worst offender missed more than 65 days of classes in one school year, according to officials.

The city hopes the effort will reduce the majority of the truancy issues and allow officials to focus resources on educating more students, rather than tracking them down.

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