Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Truancy Problem In Metro Bigger Than Thought"

Metro students skipping school may be a bigger problem that officials previously thought. Last month, seven high school students were arrested in an alleged daytime burglary ring. Police said the teens spent class time breaking into houses in the Percy Priest Lake area. Officers thought they might find more suspects by checking absentee records at Antioch's Ninth Grade Academy. Police found more than they bargained for, with more than 150 students having 10 or more unexcused absences. Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas said teens skipping school are more likely to be either victims of crime or criminals themselves. ... He said the students have learned how to work the system. “You know what they told us when we interviewed them? ‘Oh yeah, I show up for their first period because I know after that they don’t care’,” Chief Serpas said. “Now darn it, we have seen this in other examples where there is a strong head count in the first period, we're told, and then the rest of their day kids are defaulted as present even if you didn't know they were there." School officials said attendance is supposed to be taken in every class, every period and they've sent reminders out to teachers to make sure they do it. Ralph Thompson, Metro Schools, said, “If the class by class attendance procedures are taken every day, there's always an opportunity for human error, but I can guarantee you the number of truants probably would be cut drastically.” The Metro school system has 21 attendance officers. The Metro Police Department's flex unit also scours the streets from time to time looking for students who should be in school. Lt. Damin Huggins, Metro Police, said, "During schools hours on school days we send in unmarked units surveillance teams and actually go out and investigate anybody that appears to be leaving school or that is under age that should be in school." School officials believe the problem with truancy may be getting better. They surveyed nearly half of the city's schools last week and found that most of them had improved on attendance when compared to last year, some by as much as 10% To watch video CLICK HERE Copyright 2008 by WKRN Nashville Tennessee. All Rights Reserved.

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