CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The state leader who helped spearhead the effort to crack down on school truancy is pleased with the latest high school graduation rates.
For the past two years Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis has been pushing for early intervention to keep kids in school. She helped craft a partnership between schools and the judicial system to tackle the problem. Students found to be chronically truant must either follow court-ordered improvement plans or be placed on probation.
Davis responded Thursday to this week’s release of a study by the state Department of Education citing an 8.5 percent jump in attendance in the last 5 years. She said it proves the truancy program is working.
“I’m delighted,” Davis told MetroNews. “If we can attack truancy beginning in kindergarten and grade school we’re going to graduate more students and we’re going to reduce the prison and jail population in the state of West Virginia.”
According to the state Division of Corrections, 8 out of 10 prisoners currently behind bars were truants as children.
In the 2012-2013 school year, the data shows 79.3 percent of high school seniors graduated from high school. Compare that to 2008-2009 when the number was 70.8 percent.
Davis gave much of the praise to the county judges who have put the truancy policy in place.
“The bulk of our circuit judges have begun aggressively implementing some type of a truancy program in each county. I hope it will encourage circuit judges who are not as actively involved to become more actively involved,” said Davis.
She said now that the program is showing signs of success it may be time to focus in on areas that still have problems.
“We probably need to regroup and take a look at the data, see the counties where it’s working, identify the counties where it’s not working and make a determination as to why,” Davis said.