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Truancy: know the law, says D.A. Weirich

With the onset of a new school year, District Attorney General Amy Weirich wants students, parents and school administrators to remember the law on truancy. With the onset of a new school year, District Attorney General Amy Weirich wants students, parents and school administrators to remember the law on truancy. Five unexcused absences is against the law. That’s five total, not five in row.

“Those who fail in their duties under the law can be prosecuted,” said Weirich, calling a quality education the best gift a child can receive. Habitually truant students are more likely to commit crimes and become involved with gangs, she said.

The D.A.’s office created a mentoring program in 2006 for truant students. It is a voluntary program that serves as an alternative to prosecution. The truant students, with the consent of their parents, are matched with mentors who commit to spending eight (8) hours a month with a student. The goal is to empower youth to stay in school and realize their potential.

Eight middle schools participate in the DA’s mentoring program. The data shows that before intervention, students averaged ten unexcused absences for every 100 days. After being matched with a mentor, the figure dropped to five unexcused absences.

(If you would like to learn more about becoming a mentor, contact the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Youth Mentoring Program Director, Harold Collins, at 901-545-5987; 901-568-7665 (cell), or visit www.scdag.com.)

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