I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Truancy a Growing Problem in Escambia County

Cases filed in Escambia County Truancy Court:

2006-2007 65 Cases
2007-2008 81 Cases
2008-2009 96 Cases

Circuit Judge Ross Goodman sent a letter to the Escambia County School District on November 9, and a copy of the letter and attachment was sent to Board Offices on November 24th.

Judge Goodman suggests in his letter and attachments that The Escambia County School District implement the School Truancy Operation Program (STOP). He believes this program will deter the rising trend of truancy cases in Escambia County.

I would like to know more about this program (mainly costs associated with participation), but I would support implementation if it keeps more kids in school.

But I would like to see this program amped up to include legal consequences for the parents of students who are chronically truant. In Memphis, 19 parents were recently brought to court for failing to ensure their children attend school.

Also in Memphis, some lawmakers are advocating financial penalties and/or cessation of government assistance benefits for parents of chronically truant students.

Is the Memphis approach too mercenary? I don’t know, we’ll have to see how effective it becomes.

I’m all for holding truants accountable, but I also feel parents need to be engaged in this process as well. As is the case in so many aspects of education—parental participation is essential. If parents buy-in, we see schools flourish with volunteers, robust PTAs, great fundraising drives, community involvement, and this environment incubates schools that perform at high levels.

Schools that do not have vibrant parental involvement tend not to be as successful.

There is a strong correlation between parental participation and success.

So, back to tackling the truancy problem, if we punish students—but do not make it inconvenient or uncomfortable for the parents—will we get cooperation and results?

I’m an optimist and I’m willing to try, but I’d like to see parents held accountable in this whole program as well.

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