TN Lawmakers Tackle The Problem Of Truancy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - With schools soon starting all over the state, they have some new guidance about an age-old problem - truancy. It’s an issue tackled this past session by Tennessee lawmakers.

State lawmakers control some of the purse strings for schools across the state, but they also get into policy. Kids not showing up for class is an age old problem, but state lawmakers hope schools increase efforts to keep them out of the juvenile court system for not showing up for school.

“Create a fix for those that are being truant before you put them into the justice system,” says Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis).

Parkinson and McMinn County Republican John Forgety were two of the bipartisan sponsors of the bill. Forgety, who is a retired school superintendent, says the bill deals with students who have five aggregated unexcused absences.

While parents are notified, they can also be called in a for a series of what's called ‘progressive truancy interventions’ with their child. 

Other options rather than juvenile court could send the child to counseling, do community service, and even Saturday classes if truancy continues.

“It’s invaluable to communities of color and poor communities, because that is where a lot of these challenges are occurring,” says Rep. Parkinson.

Many school districts say they have already been doing all they can to keep kids out of court and in school, but now lawmakers are requiring them to do it. 

Schools can still refer a truant student to juvenile court, but only after all the new requirements have failed.

 


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