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Truancy efforts paying off in EBR schools

4 years ago March 24, 2011 Mar 24, 2011 Thursday, March 24 2011 Thursday, March 24, 2011 9:26:10 PM CDT in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Ashley Rodrigue

BATON ROUGE-  Figures from the East Baton Rouge Parish School District show about a 50% drop in truancy rates, per month, this school year.

Teachers say it's because they can be more involved in the source of the students' absences and the authorities are being more tough on parents.

Westdale Middle School Principal, Sherry Brock, said, "Test scores are up, academic scores are up, attendance is up and that's the reason."

Starting this school year, others have made it their mission too, the city, the district attorney and the community.  Because of it, truancy rates are taking a nose dive.

"It's 2.1% of the total student population," said Chris Trahan, spokesman for the East Baton Rouge Parish School District, "We'd like to get that down lower and so that's what we're going to be focused on this year and going into next year."

The monthly average is between 900 and 1000 students out of school.  Last year, that number was above 2,000.  And this school year, juvenile criminal cases are following the trend, down 600-900 files.

"I'll accept some progress right now, we still have a long way to go," said District Attorney Hillar Moore.

Moore is not only talking about getting students in classrooms, he wants more parents to care, and so far, he's taken a dozen or so to court to make them.

"We're still trying to perfect that process," he said, "It's a long process, it's a learning process for us right now, we are seeing more cases now and hopefully that's going to have some effect."

What most say they know will have an effect is a truancy center, in the making now.

"I think that the community has realized that this is not just a school issue it's a problem that needs to be addressed by the whole community," Trahan said.

Brock said, "They walked the walk this time. They did what they said they were gonna do."

The truancy center is expected to open at the start of the school year.

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