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School officials, Juvenile Court judges meet to discuss Richmond County student absenteeism

Friday, Sept. 21, 2012 7:18 PM
Last updated Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012 3:42 AM
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School officials met with the judicial circuit’s three Juvenile Court judges Thursday to discuss solutions to chronic absenteeism in Richmond County schools.

Carol Rountree, the director of Student Services, said the meeting was called to get to know the judges and prepare a game plan for when the new judicial terms begin Oct. 1.

“The judges are new, and it was good timing for a meeting,” Rountree said.

On Sept. 12, the circuit’s eight Superior Court judges named Pamela James Doumar the newest Juvenile Court judge. Judges Jennifer McKinzie and Doug Flanagan kept their posts, but the terms of Willie Saunders and Ben Allen were not renewed. The terms of the three juvenile judges will be full time and begin next month.

According to a news release sent late Friday afternoon, Superintendent Frank Roberson, Deputy Superintendent Tim Spivey, school board attorney Pete Fletcher and Rountree met with the three judges.

The judges told school officials Juvenile Court will hear “as many truancy cases as necessary to effectively enforce truancy laws,” according to the release.

In 2011-12, the court held only two hearings. The court held no hearings in 2010-11, although there were more than 8,000 truant students.

The court also plans to have preventative programs to enhance student attendance.

The officials will establish a Speakers Bureau, in which judges and others speakers will give information to students on alcohol and drug awareness, truancy, self-esteem and other issues, according to the release.

The judges plan to meet Oct. 19 with school counselors, dropout specialists and social workers to learn about school-based interventions and talk about how to combine school efforts with the court.

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imwatching 09/21/12 - 09:51 pm
And you wonder why...

...Richmond County schools have the test scores they do. Teachers can only teach those who show up. Students who are deemed truant should be dealt with, by the rules (laws) already inplace. You just need to find the judges with backbones to comply with the already written rule. Parents too, should be held accountable. Over 8000 cases of truancy and only 2 court hearings in two school years...Richmond County should be ashamed, as well as the RCBOE for allowing this to go on. You are either part of the solution, or part of the problem. Crack down hard and weed out those who are incorrigible, at least they won't show up at testing time to sink the scores of schools who are really trying to make a difference.

avidreader 09/22/12 - 07:40 am
What a Mess!

I can only comment on this situation concerning high school students. Most teachers have been plagued with truancy issues over the years. Certain kids will not come to school regularly, and then it ALWAYS becomes the teacher's responsibility to assist the kids with grade recovery plans, and guess what -- most do not complete the work, and then the pressure once again is heaped upon the teacher to "find a way" for these kids to be promoted so they do not become a drop out risk. In my opinion, these kids have already dropped out.

Most of these truants have no doubt in their minds that they are going to pass to the next grade level, no matter what. They simply flaunt their attitudes, and continue to do as they please. In general, even the parents will admit that they have lost control of their children's daily goings-on.

DDS attendance forms sit openly on the office counter for anyone to retreive. So the driver's license denial approach becomes a moot issue. The BOE social workers are so overwhelmed they cannot possibly deal with all of the referrals they receive.

I am a compassionate and disciplined teacher; however, I will not allow these truant students to infect my classroom. They pop in occasionally and do not have the slightest idea what's going on, so they stoop to inappropriate antics in order to entertain themselves. Yes, I will offer a grade recovery plan if a child COMMITS to a second chance, but it's a one shot deal, and if the child returns to the truancy pattern, I just consider them as a future drop out and move on. Do my remarks sound cruel and uncaring? Too bad -- I have twenty-something other kids in the class who have earned my trust and compassion.

I am sick and tired of truants being handled with "compassion". Someone needs to light a fire under mom and the student. If an ornary judge is in their faces, maybe things will change. Now the question remains -- how are three judges going to fit thousands of truants into their case loads? We'll see.

seenitB4 09/22/12 - 08:04 am

Amen avid just hit the nail on the head!

shrimp for breakfast
shrimp for breakfast 09/22/12 - 05:54 pm

I must admit I played hooky a few times when I was in high school (mostly to go fishing) but these days kids just don't want to go to school so they don't.
One time when I was in Catholic school half of the student body had the flu so the school shut down for two days. My friends and I weren't sick so on one of the two days we went fishing. As we sat there with our lines in the wayer a police car pulled up to find out why we weren't in school. We told them the reason and they checked it out and apologized and yold us to have fun.
Ah the good old days!

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