Truancy Success Program Needs Volunteers

A joint press release by Geary County Schools Unified School District 475 and the 8th Judicial Court District

JUNCTION CITY, KAN.  – Kansas Compulsory Attendance laws (K.S.A. 72-1111 and 72-1113) require a school to report to the County Attorney and/or the Kansas Department of Children and Families documentation on any student who accrues three consecutive unexcused absences, five unexcused absences in a semester, or seven unexcused absences in a school year.

Recognizing truancy is often a symptom of a larger issue, the Geary County Truancy Success Program (TSP) was developed nearly seven years ago as a collaborative effort between USD475, the 8th Judicial District Community Corrections, and Geary County District Court. Enrollment into TSP is voluntary, and is considered a diversionary opportunity for students facing court action. Therefore, should a student and/or his or her family choose for the student to not enroll in the program, the school is required to submit attendance records to the Geary County Attorney for a determination on the filing of a formal complaint with district court.

Working in tandem with school officials, Educational Liaisons (ELs) serve as case managers for students enrolled in the program. Utilizing school attendance reports, the ELs identify students aged 13-18 who are in violation of the attendance laws and who may be eligible for the program. The ELs work to distribute information regarding the laws and the current standing of the student to the student’s parent/guardian. Once enrolled in TSP, the ELs work to build a rapport with a truant student and his or her family in an effort to identify any barriers, obstacles, dilemmas, and stressors that may prevent the student from maintaining regular school attendance. Once these barriers are identified, staff work to provide resources and referrals to fill any gaps and to assist with student re-engagement.

One key element of TSP is Truancy Court. This court session is considered an informal or pre-file court proceeding and is held every Wednesday, when school is in session, beginning at 4:00 p.m. at the Geary County Courthouse. Students enrolled in TSP are required to appear based upon a phase system. To ensure all needs of a student are considered, a multidisciplinary team – made up of school officials, program staff, court officials and approved community members – is included in the design of Truancy Court. This team, or panel, meets every Wednesday, prior to the court session, beginning at 3:00 p.m. During the panel meeting, the progress of each student is discussed. The panel also works to identify any additional opportunities for effective intervention. To ensure a wide variety of considerations and viewpoints are included on the panel, a diverse group of community members who care about the future of Junction City youth are an essential part of the Truancy Court Panel.

Due to panel members retiring or moving out of the area, TSP is currently seeking volunteers for the Truancy Court Panel for the 2017-2018 school year.

Program staff will host a meeting on August 30, 2017 beginning at 3:00 pm at the Adolescent Resource Center located at 805 N. Washington, in Junction City. Information on TSP and the responsibilities of panel members will be provided. Staff will also work to answer any questions community members may have about the program.

If you would like additional information before the meeting please feel free to contact the Educational Liaisons:

Dominique Woods, Educational Liaison
785-762-8801 ext. 1149

Alyson Shadrick, Educational Liaison
785-762-8801 ext.1150

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