Truancy enforcement begins now

Truancy enforcement begins now
By: Arnold Wyrick
Keeping kids in school is something school administrators say must start at an early age.
"I think what's  really key for a truancy program to be most effective, we need to get the student usually by 12 years of age, or earlier.  Because once they get in their teenage years the problem has matured.  And it's difficult to turn that behavior of truancy around," says Robert Koehn Regional Superintendent of Schools for Jackson and Perry Counties.
Now a new law in Illinois allows municipalities and county leaders to draft their own truancy ordinances to crack down on kids and their parents.
"It's a parents responsibility to make sure their student is at school.  And we look at the parent, we want to partner with the parent.  It's a hearing to find out what are the problems going on in that students life that is causing them to be absent from school," Superintendent Koehn said.
The truancy problem can also effects things in the classroom, and the educational process as a whole.
"I just hate it when I see an empty desk in my classroom.  Because I feel for the kid.  It's really hard to make up when you've taught a lesson for a whole hour, they can't just make that up.  You know you don't have the time to really go back and teach them what they've missed," says Gina Balch 7th Grade Teacher at Murphysboro Middle School.
The consequences for truancy can cost both the parent and child.  Parents can be fined from $5 to $100 for each day they allow their child to miss school.  Students can be made to perform community service, like cleaning up city parks and streets.  And in some cases they can lose their driving privileges.
School leaders aren't giving up on their efforts to keep kids in school.  Because if they give up, there can be problems later on in life for that student.
"Things like unemployment, prison terms that type of things.  Truancy is connected to a lot of problems in adult life later on," Koehn said.