Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Police chief attacks truancy in Metro schools
WKRN (Channel 2 News) Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas is calling on the Metro School District to keep track of its students and Tuesday night, vented his frustrations to board members. He said Tuesday morning police checked on a 17-year-old Antioch High School student arrested in February for aggravated burglary. While a check of the attendance system showed the student was present at Antioch, he was nowhere to be found. "As it turns out, his first period teacher did not bother to enter his absence in the system," he explained, blaming the school district for failing to keep track of students. "If we're out there investigating crimes and calling the system and we're told the student we're looking for is present and accounted for like we found out in Antioch [Tuesday] morning, and it's not the case, what does that do?" he asked. In just one week, between September 30 and October 6, Metro police arrested 19 students for truancy. On average, the students have missed 10 days of school but one student was listed as having 23 unexcused absences. "It not optional whether or not we have reliable attendance data," Metro School Board Chair David Fox reiterated, adding new attendance software has been part of the problem. "There have been some problems using the software and also making sure its functioning the way it's expected to," he said. Fox expects much more reliable attendance data in the upcoming weeks. Chief Serpas said that is long overdue. "We're not trying to tell the school board what to do, we're making it very clear to them crime goes up in a certain part of town, and its daytime burglaries, they've got some responsibility for this," he said. In a statement Mayor Karl Dean said, "With the new Metro student attendance center, it is my hope and expectation that Metro police, Metro schools and juvenile court will continue to work in partnership to best resolve the issues facing our truant students and to provide positive early interventions so that the students are reengaged in school life as quickly as possible."