DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The Montgomery County Prosecutors Office and the juvenile courts are partnering with local attendance officers to find ways to fight drops in school attendance.
The finer details behind the initiative are still in the works. At its core, the group meeting today wants to put more resources into the community to cut back on absenteeism while also fighting crime.
At Dayton Public Schools, their annual report card said their chronic absenteeism rate went from 30 to 34 percent during the 2018-2019 school year.
Senate Bill 181 defines chronic absence as missing school for 7 straight days or 10 missed days over a month and 15 unexcused absences throughout the school year.
“That trouble begins and it starts a cycle that just escalates. We want to put an end to that,” said Montgomery County Prosecutor, Mat Heck Jr.
Heck says decades of research shows students enjoy learning new things. But family issues seem to get in the way.
“What we found is, many times if one child is at home..there is another child at home taking care of that child,” said Heck.
The T.E.A.M Initiative also found more children are having children of their own. Creating what appears to be an endless loop of issues that needs to be stopped.
If kids are not in school, they are potentially breaking the law, said Heck.
“I wish every person would take one child and be a mentor. We have so many children that are struggling in broken families,” said Judge Anthony Capizzi of the Montgomery County Juvenile Court.
House Bill 410 gives school districts new money to intervene with resources before parents end up in front of a judge.
Judge Capizzi says most parents get less than 30 days in jail. However, the max could be around 6-months.
In the past, truancy court was overloaded with cases. Ultimately, no one wants parents to be separated from their children. Judge Capizzi swears it only makes things worse.
“As much as I want to say it’s your (the parents) responsibility, you have to understand the needs. They don’t have it (the resources). We have to be supportive where we can,” said Capizzi.
The newly formed T.E.A.M Initiative hopes to formalize their plan soon.