The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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March 6, 2014

Fayette mom facing prison time after forging doctor's excuses

Kelley 3/6/14 spell-checked

By Jessica Farrish

Register-herald Reporter

A Fayette County mother faces prison time after allegedly forging doctor’s excuses to avoid a misdemeanor truancy charge.

Nancy Renee Tucker-Schoolcraft, 40, of Smithers, was arrested Wednesday on four counts of forgery after a Fayette truancy officer was unable to verify physician’s excuses Tucker-Schoolcraft submitted.

Fayette County is one of several West Virginia counties in which the board of education and county court systems are closely linked to expedite criminal charges of truancy against parents of children who miss more than the number of unexcused absences allowed under the county attendance policy.

Fayette Sheriff Steve Kessler reported that truancy officer Judy Lively had filed truancy charges against Tucker-Schoolcraft after her child, a student at an unidentified school, had accumulated an excessive number of unexcused absences.

The mom was expected to appear in Fayette Magistrate Court.

Instead, Kessler said, Tucker-Schoolcraft allegedly passed four false doctors’ excuses to Lively.

Lively reported the excuses to the police when she was unable to verify them, Kessler said.

He added that it appears Tucker-Schoolcraft created the excuses in an attempt to avoid truancy charges.

Fayette Sheriff’s Capt. Jim Sizemore said Tucker-Schoolcraft isn’t the first Fayette parent to be arrested on forgery charges after forging a doctor’s note to explain a child’s absence from school.

“This is probably the second or third case of this nature,” he said.

He warned parents that forging a doctor’s excuse — including changing the date on a legitimate doctor’s excuse — can result in arrests for forgery.

“Any alteration of an original document can constitute forgery,” Sizemore said. “And when you pass it, you can also be charged with a felony count of uttering.

“You can’t just make up doctor’s excuses,” he said. “When a parent does something like that, it’s almost like they’re complicit in allowing their child to be truant.”

Sizemore said that Tucker-Schoolcraft could go to prison.

“I really would seriously doubt that would occur, considering the nature of it, but of course, that’s up to the court,” he added.

Tucker-Schoolcraft was not charged with uttering, Sizemore added.

He said that, so far, the stricter attendance policy hasn’t resulted in a higher number of forgeries in the county.

— E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com

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