Starlina Maria Locust Wolfe, 34, was convicted on Wednesday, Nov. 12 in the Cherokee Court for three counts of Compulsory School Attendance Violations and was sentenced to 80 days imprisonment. The sentence, issued by the Honorable Kirk G. Saunooke, Cherokee Court Judge, equaled the same number of days her children were absent from school without excuse.
Wolfe was initially given a “Prayer for Judgment Continued”, a legal term for a process similar to probation, but failed to comply with the terms set by the Court, which primarily consisted of keeping her children in school without unexcused absences. During her review hearing, set for last Wednesday, the Court concluded that Wolfe had violated those terms, having amassed 80 unexcused absences.
The sentence was significant for these types of violations, which are typically handled successfully by the Court with probationary type sentences. Cherokee Schools, in partnership with the Office of the Attorney General and Office of the Tribal Prosecutor, implemented a Truancy Intervention Council nearly a year ago to deal with the growing problem of truancy within the Cherokee School System. Working together with Social Service resources and the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Truancy Council has managed to work successfully with countless parents and children to address and correct issues leading to truancy. For cases where parents do not work with the Truancy Council, however, Court intervention, and in some cases such as Wolfe’s, imprisonment is required.
Tribal Prosecutor Jason Smith stated, “I want to thank Attorney General Hannah Smith, Assistant Tribal Prosecutor Justin Eason, and Cherokee Middle School Principal Cance Carnes, for their hard work and dedication to this case and to the Truancy Intervention Council, which made this outcome a possibility. The work of the Truancy Council is unprecedented in this area and promises to provide a significant impact on the emerging truancy crisis in Cherokee.”
– Office of the Tribal Prosecutor