County struggling to keep kids in school and off the street

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Westwood Elementary used to have one of the worst truancy problems in the county. Now it and ten other schools have a truancy officer on staff.

But parents in this neighborhood say it's not enough, because they see too many kids on the street when they should be in school.

Marsha Sullivan says kids are skipping class and causing problems.

"They break into people's homes," she said.

Sullivan lives across the street from Westwood Elementary where her granddaughter is a student. She calls it a good school, but says teachers struggle to keep kids in the classroom.

"I actually see elementary children running from the school. I'll see teachers and different ones chasing them," she said.

City Councilman Harold Collins said, "Based on data we received this summer, truancy is on the uptick."

Collins is also part of the county's Truancy Control Program. He told WREG it's hard to crack down on kids not being in school when some parents don't even register their children until after Labor Day!=.

"We sent a letter home to parents and students encouraging them to get registered, and get their kids into school," he said.

Sullivan says there are too many kids on the corner near her home, and she says it's because they don't have anything to do.

"They need something over here in this neighborhood for the children," she said.

And according to Collins, there are numbers to back up this problem.

"Twenty-five percent of most juvenile crime is committed during school hours. When they are not in school, they are not being supervised by an adult," he said.

The consequences are tough for parents who don't make sure their kids are in school. They can serve any where from ten days to 11months in jail, but it still isn't enough to get every kid to report to class.

Collins said, "We know that every year we do the same thing and expect a different result. Something is wrong with us."

He wants the school board to consider having kids stay in school later in the day so they remain under adult supervision until their parents get home.


  • BIZ59

    1st off– why is the parent having to spend the time in jail? If they send their kids to school and know they have dropped them off at school and the child is picked up for skipping class than that child should be the one put in the jail to find out that MAYBE SCHOOL IS NOT SO BAD AFTER ALL and keep his or her tail in school and in the classroom. Later and longer school days Mr. Collins— school and teachers are NOT DAYCARE CENTERS, they are parents too and need to be home with their families as well. People who have children need to make the sacrifice to care for their children at all times, even when school is out. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is that they are out of school if they are going to get in trouble they are going to get in trouble. I am tired of hearing that the teachers need to take care of them. The teachers need to TEACH them and the parents need to take care of them and correct them.

    • Dr. JohnS

      I really think we read different articles. First of all the students are not being enrolled in school – that is the parents fault. Second of all no where in the article does it say that they are taken to school by their parents and then skip school.

      If the county was really interested they would investigate when they get a call. l like to have never found the correct phone number to report children not in school. Then after calling no one has bothered to come and check on why they are not in school.

      • donaknowsitall

        I happen to agree with BIZ59, she or he is right. Teachers are teachers first and foremost, most of them do have children themselves and need to get home to them too.
        BIZ59 stated in her comment that IF the parents dropped the children off. The articles did not say that BIZ59 said “IF”.

        Why doesn’t the county register the children before school gets out the year before? I think Tipton county does that,. That would eliminate the not registering until after Labor Day issue.

      • Monica

        I agree with you. There should be a phone number widely advertised to make it known so that cases of unsupervised kids can be reported during school hours and of course follow up is important, maybe they could train volunteers to do this if there’s a lack of manpower.

  • Cityisajoke

    But when somebody say something to one of them this stupid city is in an uproar. Plz……’s done here

  • Victor

    The problem is there are parents that did not take education seriously themselves so they have no urgency or care about sending the child to school. It is 100% the parents fault, my mom is a teacher and they get blamed for everything, yet when the teacher tries to contact the parents about issues with the child there answer is “he is yo responsibility during the day”. The problem is parents are raising un disciplined terrible children that do not listen to them because they dont discipline them at a young age. Therefore yes some parents can drop off their children and the child skips school. But guess what at the end of the day you created those behaviors and you cant put it off on the rest of society you need to deal with it and figure out what is wrong with your child. Spend time with them, demand excellence not just enough, push honesty and obedience, and stop teaching vanity, fighting, and disrespect of adults. The problem with the children all lies in the hands of the parents. Parents must teach their children respect, parents must make an effort to expose their children to a variety of things in life, parents have all the power. They have to put their selfish lives to the side and make decisions and do things that influence a child to be productive and my family most of us live in what would be considered horrible areas of the city. Those that do well have good parents, those that dont have terrible parents that do not lead. I turned out good because my mom made one thing clear “your going to do good in school and you dont have to know anything to sit in class and shut your mouth and do as the teacher says, inform me if there are any problems.”

  • Terrie

    I agree totally with Victor! The parents are the ones raising terrible kids. It is NOT the teachers responsibility to raise kids of stupid parents. I say put them all in jail. Wharton is not a man (no package) since he is scared to enforce anything!!! Truancy IS BREAKING THE RULES. They should all be put somehere!

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