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Chesterfield parent arrested for failing to send children to school

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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR) -- Kristopher M. Berry, age 31, of Chesterfield County, was arrested Wednesday for failing to send his children to school.

According to Chesterfield Police, Berry allegedly allowed his 11-year-old child have 35 unexcused absences from school last year and his 12-year-old child was allowed to miss 50 days.

His wife, Jessica Stevens, was also arrested in connection with this case back in June.

According to Virginia code, after five unexcused absences the school must contact the parent to set up a conference session.

If unexcused absences continue, after seven of them social workers can inform the court system where warrants can be issued for the child's parent.

"A lot of things have changed in the last 30 years," Charles Pyle, a spokesman with the Virginia Department of Education, said.

Pyle said that in the fall of 2011, the Commonwealth began factoring in truancy cases and absences into their accreditation process. That, Pyle says, is a major reason school districts have cracked down on parents.

"We rate high schools based on their ability to keep students in school and keep them on track to graduation and that means school systems have to get a handle on truancy," Pyle said.