Several local judges who have spoken out on the issue of truancy said Hamilton County School officials suspended 5,585 students and expelled 438 according to the Tennessee Department Of Educations' 2008 Report Card.
General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon said, "Hamilton County's student drop out rate was exceedingly high with 16.8% of our students quitting school before graduation. Knox County had 13.5% of it students dropping out of school during the same recording period. The state drop out average is 10.1%. In Hamilton County, we have almost doubled the state average."
Judge Sherry Paty said, "During the same 2008 reporting period, Hamilton County graduated 72.6% of its students. Two schools fell far below the state average graduation rate of 82.2% with Howard School of Academics only graduating approximately 50% of its students and Brainerd High School graduating 63.6 according to the state report. Several of our Hamilton County schools have been targeted for mandated improvement."
Tennessee State University recently conducted research on the "The Relationship Between Truancy and Juvenile Crime." The study explored the relationship between truancy and attendance and juvenile crime, the judges said.
Red Bank City Judge, Johnny Houston said, "Students who are charged with truancy are statisically significantly more likely to commit other juvenile crimes than students who are not charged with truancy. This suggests that there is a link between truancy and absenteeism and juvenile delinquency."
The judges have been vocal in focusing upon parents and guardians responsible for complying with compulsory school attendance. In Tennessee, parents and guardians can be prosecuted for contributing to the delinquency of a minor in General Sessions Court for willful or neglectful failure to compel school attendance of their children. The offense is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and 11 months and 29 days in jail.
Judge David Bales said, "Knox County and Marion County have gotten very involved in the prosecution of these cases with remarkable increases in class attendance."