Truancy

Truancy has been a part of life for as long as kids have been required to attend schools. And schools have had mixed results looking for ways to keep kids in class.

Truancy is an inconvenience for school systems. But, as a behavior, truancy could be a sign of what will become of the student in the future.

Chronic truants probably aren’t the best students, but if they aren’t in school, they have no chance at all of learning. Of course not all chronic truants will leave school without a high school diploma, but many will. While not a guarantee of a bleak future, it doesn’t take any type of a study to know many truants will become involved with alcohol, drugs and other anti-social behaviors. Unfortunately, many will end up in prison and a financial drain on society.

More school systems have been turning to the courts for help with truancy. Using the courts as a deterrent is a last resort and done when necessary, Chris Rutherford, Wood County Schools attendance director, said. Last year, the school system sent 1,040 truancy notifications to parents with 132 of them ending up in magistrate court.

In Mercer County, a program that is part of a West Virginia initiative with circuit courts, school boards and social agencies, has led to an 80 percent reduction in truancy. The program takes a hard stance with truants, especially repeat offenders and, in some cases, the parents.

The first line in fighting truancy has to be at home with the parents. Parents know if their kids are not attending school. It is inconceivable that parents of chronically truant children wouldn’t know this is happening. Some counties have begun making parents take this responsibility by taking them to court in cases of chronic truancy.

That is a good idea and one that should be considered here. It should encourage parents to do what they should be doing – making sure their kids are in school.