Forces joined to crack down on truancy

Allison B. Hudson

Ascension Parish School Board, Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the City of Donaldsonville joined together to create a new truancy program that went into effect last week when school began.

“The Ascension Parish School Board shares concern for the academic success and welfare of the children in Ascension Parish. The School Board wants to ensure that all students accomplish their goals and receive the best education available. In order for students to accomplish their goals, they must attend school on a regular basis,” said Assistant Superintendent Steve Westbrook.

Louisiana state law governing statutes provide the Sheriff’s Office, school officials and FINS (Families in Need of Services) with the ability to see that children with no legitimate reason for being absent are brought to school and if habitually absent or tardy, reported to juvenile or family court.

Truancy procedures developed in this joint effort provide guidelines for: suspected truants who are encountered by law enforcement; students who are suspected by school administrators or truancy interventionists of being absent without legitimate reason; students who are determined to be habitually truant; mandatory reporting of unexcused absences.

“For this effort to be successful it will take the entire community to succeed,” said Westbrook.

If someone sees or knows of a school-aged child who is absent from school without legitimate reason, they are urged to please contact the Donaldsonville Truancy Officer, Cleveland Washington (Office: 225-257-2195; Cell: 225-717-8371).

“Once this contact is made, Mr. Washington, in conjunction with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, will determine whether or not the student is truant. If the student is supposed to be in school, he or she will be transported there,” added Westbrook.