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Franklin schools to implement new truancy policy

Published 12:00pm Saturday, October 27, 2012

BY ANDREW FAISON/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
andrew.faison@yahoo.com

FRANKLIN—Franklin City Public Schools plans to implement a policy in hopes of improving attendance.

State law requires that after six unexcused absences, school officials must meet with the student’s parents.

“Everyone has stepped up and said that this is not just a school problem, it is all of our problems,” said Gail Wade, director of human resources and administrative service. “And that is what it is going to take to provide the resources for some of our parents who may need those kind of resources and support.”

Last year, there were 23 attendance meetings for Franklin High School students, three of which went to court. At J.P. King Middle School, there were 14 meetings with four needing court action. And 70 meetings were held at S.P. Morton Elementary School with no court action.

“It wasn’t what I’d call a huge problem, but we are just trying to be more proactive and reduce the numbers even further and assist parents,” said Wade.

The Attendance Review Committee/Truancy Review Team hopes to improve attendance before getting the court involved.

“If we do have to file a petition with the court, we will have good documentation that we as a school division, in collaboration with the department of social services and police department have tried to do everything that we can to assist this student/family,” said Wade.

Similar policies are part of the Virginia Department of Education’s Dropout and Truancy Prevention to improve school attendance, thus reducing dropout rates to increase achievement.

Virginia law does not define a truant specifically, but does define a child who is habitually and without justification absent from school as a “child in need of supervision.”

According to the revised policy a student will be identified for attendance review after three unexcused absences, while being identified for truancy review after having six unexcused absences. After seven unexcused absences, a petition may be filed with the court.

“We hope that first of all we won’t have any students get to the six-day mark,” said Wade. “We will reduce our numbers (of absences).”

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