Truancy Numbers Down in Kanawha County
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Truancy numbers in Kanawha County are lower this school year than in the past, despite a repeat offender in court Wednesday morning.
Judge Duke Bloom says the excuses for not sending kids to school are endless.
"They're up late often times doing drugs not behaving themselves, so consequently the kids don't get to bed at an appropriate time," Bloom said.
It may only be October, but truancy advocates, like Judge Bloom, say the three-year-old program is finally showing some results. "There seems to be a slowing of the number of kids who are missing and the frequency in which they are missing unexcused absences."
One reason for the decrease, advocates say, is early intervention. "The lag time between when the petitions are filed and they have their first court appearance is shorter because they tend to miss more days in between," Kanawha County Magistrate Traci Strickland said.
A message of paying for the crime is also starting to hit home.
Parents who continuously keep their kids home from school with unexcused absences can face jail time, fines and community service.
"The families who are not going to send their children to school, that's determined by our courts to be child abuse and neglect," Judge Bloom said.
But what does it mean to you if your child has perfect attendance?
"It's discouraging to them when kids don't go to school because the teachers are trying to catch up those who have missed," Bloom said. "It's a cycle of missing school they're hoping to break."
UPDATE 10/30/13 @ 12 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A mother is in trouble for the second time for not sending her daughter to school.
Rhonda Smith pleaded guilty Wednesday morning to second-offense truancy in Kanawha County Circuit Court.
The judge says Smith's daughter has already missed 17 days this school year.
Smith made headlines last school year for being the first parent ever sentenced to jail in Kanawha County on truancy charges. She received a five-day jail sentence.
In 2012, her daughter missed more than 47 days of school.
She will be back in court in December to be sentenced.
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Judge Duke Bloom sentenced Rhonda Smith to five days in the South Central Regional Jail.
Smith's child, who goes to Elkview Middle School, has missed more than 47 days. Smith is the first parent in Kanawha County to be sentenced to jail on truancy charges.
Bloom says keeping kids in class not only helps students be successful, it also cuts down on crime in the community.
Smith will report to jail on Friday afternoon and serve her sentence over two weekends.