Our view: Truancy reduction important
June 22, 2012 2:32PM
THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Updated: July 25, 2012 6:08AM
Programs that aim at battling truancy deserve support in the city of Gary and in Porter County.
Gary’s City Court, in concert with police, will begin a truancy court in the fall that intends to hold parents accountable for absent children, and importantly provides them with needed support from several agencies.
Such a program is long overdue in a city where one police officer estimates that 40 percent of the students are truant at some point. Police have arrested students for burglaries who still are wearing their school uniforms.
A pilot program has begun with volunteer parents and, by October, parents of truants will face criminal charges. State law identifies students with nine unexcused absences as truant.
Parents can avoid jail and other fines if they participate in the program focusing on getting children back on the path to graduation.
In Porter County, Project ATTEND, or Aiming Toward Truancy Elimination and Non-attendance Decrease, lost its grant money, but schools are chipping in to keep the program intact. The $28,000 program had been funded through a variety of federal, state and local grants and is a partnership among the courts, prosecutor, juvenile probation and schools.
Under the program, parents of children with 10 or more absences are put on a contract for at least six months, and a case manager visits the student at school. If a child’s attendance doesn’t improve, charges can be pursued.
There were 81 students in the program last year, and the number is increasing.
Both truancy programs are timely efforts.