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

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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