SCS, District Attorney General prepare to fight truancy this school year

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- While most Shelby County Schools students went back to school Monday, there are still families in the process of registering their children.

WREG asked SCS Superintendent Dorsey Hopson and the District Attorney General's Office about the fight against truancy in the 2015-2016 school year.

"We started off this year with specifically targeting about 1,100 kids who are just chronically truant. Made about 900 phone calls, knocked on about a hundred doors, got about 725 or so of those students registered," Hopson said.

While the school district runs truancy centers, the District Attorney General's Office deals with referrals when kids get five or more unexcused absences or tardies.

Parents get a letter about the problem.

If the problem continues, the District Attorney General's Office invites parents to a mentoring program Megan Pietrowski runs.

"We work with them on their responsibilities as a parent and what they need to do, what types of documentation needs to be turned in, how they need to keep the lines of communication open with the schools," Pietrowski said.

Pietrowski says the Truancy Reduction Program is optional, but parents whose kids continue to miss class could face prosecution.

Pietrowski said it will be a few weeks before SCS gets them the number of truant kids, but their priority will be tracking down families with late school registrations.

"The best advice I have for parents is to get their kids in school," Pietrowski said.

The mentoring program got referrals for more than 1,500 kids last year.

Pietrowski said parents cite many reasons for why children are truant, including financial concerns, transportation difficulties, kids serving as caretakers, and kids having medical problems.

The District Attorney General's Office is looking for people willing to serve as a mentor for the program. Please call 901-222-1395 if interested.

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