Debra Presnell, 29, of Middlesboro, was sentenced to serve five days of a 60-day sentence in jail on two counts of failure of parent or guardian-custodian to send a child to school. The charge is a Class B Misdemeanor.
Diane Marie Gray, 28, of Four Mile, was also charged with failure of parent or guardian-custodian to send a child to school. Gray was sentenced to serve three days of a 90-day sentence in jail.
"The judge has never been presented with the opportunity or we had never charged someone at the Class B Misdemeanor level. This is a first," said Kelby Thomas, assistant Bell County attorney.
"I think its a positive step in the right direction enforcing these parental obligations."
The two women convicted of the misdemeanor had both had two prior convictions under the same charge which was then considered a violation.
"On the third offense its a class B misdemeanor which could be up to 90 days in jail and a $250 fine," said Thomas.
Not only had they been convicted twice, Thomas said the offenses were relatively close together chronologically.
"So, we were at a point now, in a relatively short period of time, where there was a third charge where it had been necessitated. The children had not been going to school and we felt like, based on age and based on circumstance in the home, that the parents bore some significant responsibility for getting those children into school and that they should fulfill those obligations."
Pam Greene, Director of Pupil Personnel at Bell County Schools, said the action was a last resort.
"We hated to have to come to this, but our top priority is for every student to receive the top-quality education offered at one of our school sites and they can't receive it if they're not there."