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Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Attendance, and the association of attendance to dropping out of school is a real problem. I've heard of some school districts that require the parent or guardian, attend a make up school if their child misses too many classes (or misbehaves).  The articles below are some other examples.  What do you think?

Charleston schools create truancy court
Judge could fine parents every time child skips class and has no excuse
By The Associated Press
CHARLESTON A new court is starting in Charleston next month that could fine parents $50 every time their child is missing from school without an excuse.

Under the plan, a judge could impose the fines in the district’s truancy court, officially known as the Attendance Accountability Program.

The law letting districts fine parents has been on the books since 1967, but the state Education Department and the School Boards Association say they are unaware of any district using it to fine parents of truants.

“Everybody wants to use it, but no one is currently using it,” said Anne Seymour, the Charleston-area assistant prosecutor in charge of Family Court cases. “Other districts said, ‘Once you figure this out, please let us know.’”

Charleston County’s program replaces an Accountability Court that fell apart last year and is intended as a last resort to solve a truancy problem. The district will share information about a student’s history of missing school with the court and the state Juvenile Justice Department.

Seymour said skipping school is typically the start of a student’s problems with the law.
“All the research shows that when you look at the juveniles who are truant, that it’s the beginning of the path to delinquency,” she said.

Fines would involve parents in the issue, said Ashley Standafer, Juvenile Justice director for Charleston County.
“This is not just a child skipping school, this is the whole family being involved,” Standafer said.
If the fines fail to get parents’ attention, they could be charged with educational neglect if they fail to cooperate with the school in efforts to get their child to attend school regularly.

The punishment for that is up to one year in prison, a $1,500 fine and 300 hours community service.
Charleston County’s schools chief has asked local lawmakers for additional money to help solve its truancy problem.
More than 3,500 of the district’s nearly 43,000 students missed the first day of school. That number had been cut in half by Thursday of last week.

Superintendent Nancy McGinley said last week she should have budgeted money for a dedicated truant officer to find out why individual kids are not in class.

Morningside officials hunt truants
Search teams visiting homes of no-show students
By Diette Courrégé
The Post and Courier
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Grace Beahm
The Post and Courier

Morningside Middle School Resource Officer Joe Travis knocks on a door in North Charleston on Tuesday as he and school parent advocate Sherrel Brown look for students who have not reported to school.

Search teams visiting homes of no-show students
One North Charleston High School junior didn't go to school on the first day because she didn't have the required uniform a white shirt and khaki pants.

Later that week, instead of going to school, she went to work at an area fast-food restaurant.
The student, who refused to give her name, said she knew that school started last Tuesday but still missed the first week. Her mother, who also refused to give her name, didn't know when school started.

Morningside Middle School officials inadvertently found the high school student while visiting homes Monday hunting for middle school students who hadn't shown up at school. Some Charleston County school officials are striving to find absent students, more than 3,500 of whom weren't in school on the first day.

The number of absent students steadily has dropped since last Tuesday, to 1,149 on the third day to 909 on the fifth day. The numbers are in line with those from previous years.

The high school teenager was the only student who Morningside Middle officials found at home Monday. The teenager's home was in a neighborhood plagued by crime, and her yard was overgrown with weeds. Signs reading "keep out," and "no trespassing" hung in the home's windows. Her mother answered the door wearing a black nightgown and slippers early Monday afternoon.

The teenager said she went to Stall High last year but didn't have to wear a uniform. She had to wait for her grandfather to send her money to buy the required uniform, and she had to find a ride to the store because her family doesn't have a car, she said. She bought clothes on Monday and planned to go to school on Tuesday. She didn't think that the school could or would help her with what she needed, she said.

"If you show up without a uniform, they send you home," she said. "I know that's what they're going to tell us."
School officials disagreed, saying they want to work with students to get them uniforms and that shouldn't be a reason for missing school. Morningside Middle works with a local church to collect donations for clothes for students, and the school has a closet of clothes available for needy students.

Morningside Middle officials planned to go to 38 students' homes because they didn't show up for school. During those visits, school leaders often found that the students they were looking for had moved. One older man on Gaillard Lane told school officials that the missing student was his grandson, and his family had moved to Berkeley County. At an apartment on Ridgebrook Drive, the man who answered the door said that the previous family living there had moved to Savannah.

Families are supposed to let schools know when they move, but that often doesn't happen, officials said. Schools can check the county's database for students enrolled in other schools, but that information can be inaccurate during the first days of school, they said.

The Morningside Middle School community is a close-knit one, and school Principal Kala Goodwine said word would spread that officials were showing up at students' doorsteps. That could be a motivator for some to come to school, she said.

"We'll do what we can," she said.
Reach Diette Courrégé at 937-5546 or

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