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Ozone Park girl missed 92 school days

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An Ozone Park teenager missed nearly 100 days of classes during the 1998-99 school year because her mother forced her to stay at home to care for her stepbrothers, authorities charged last week.

The truancy came to light when Kavita Raghoo, 17, walked into the 106th Precinct in Ozone Park last week and told police her mother, Sita Singh, pulled her out of school so she could babysit for her two stepbrothers, now 4 and 8, police said.

Singh, 41, of 109-38 116th St., was arrested Feb. 19 and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. She faces up to one year in jail if convicted, said Meris Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney’s office.

Singh was arraigned Feb. 20 in Queens Criminal Court and released without bail on her own recognizance, Campbell said. Another court hearing was scheduled for March 6.

When she was 14, Raghoo missed 92 out of 166 days at IS 226 in South Ozone Park during the 1998-99 school year, according to a complaint filed in Queens Criminal Court. The truancy prompted Board of Education officials to file charges of educational neglect with the state in May, Board of Ed spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said.

But on June 11, 1999, Singh told Board of Ed officials her daughter would be moving permanently to Guyana. Raghoo visited the South American country but only for a week and was not permitted by her mother to attend classes when she returned, the complaint said.

She was never enrolled in any school within the New York City public school system after June 11, 1999, the charges said.

New York state education law requires all children between the ages of 6 and 16 to attend school on a full-time basis.

According to the complaint, Singh admitted she kept her daughter home from school during the 1998-99 academic year but said she did so because Raghoo had been cutting classes. Her court-appointed lawyer, Michael Yavinsky, did not return calls for comment.

Raghoo lived with her mother, who is remarried, on 116th Street until Feb. 6. She now lives with relatives.

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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