State Rep. Kevin Raper has partnered with local education and juvenile court officials in an effort to help reduce student truancy in Cleveland and Bradley County schools.
Rep. Raper met with Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn earlier this month to present a proposed progressive truancy intervention program that was drafted by the two school districts along with Bradly County Juvenile Court. The plan was approved by the Tennessee Department of Education with some modifications on Jan. 12.
"As a lifelong educator, I have seen how detrimental truancy can be to a child’s education,” Rep. Raper said. “This updated plan will help keep more students in class by addressing problems with unexcused absences more quickly and without the need for juvenile court intervention.”
According to the progressive truancy intervention program, each school would be responsible for contacting the parent/guardian of a student who accumulates five days of unexcused absences. If the student received another unexcused absence after contact was made with their parent/guardian, the Campus Court Mediation process would then begin.
School personnel would meet with the student, their parent/guardian, relevant school personnel and a juvenile court staff moderator. An agreement would be drafted and signed by those individuals involved in the meeting and a review date would be set.
If the student then continued to accumulate one or more unexcused absences, the mediator may recommend any services deemed necessary. Further non-compliance would result in a juvenile court petition for truancy being filed with Bradley County Juvenile Court.
“I appreciate Commissioner Schwinn’s support of our efforts to reduce truancy in our schools,” Rep. Raper said. “Bradley County Schools, Cleveland City Schools and all of those who work in our juvenile court system do important work, and I want to commend them as well for their dedication to helping our students be more successful.”
Following approval from the department of education, the proposed progressive truancy plan must also be approved by each local board of education as required by state law.
Additional information about chronic absenteeism can be found on the Tennessee Department of Education’s website.