Ditching class is a problem in Iberville’s public schools and as our Emily Turner found out today, a new truancy policy has been put in place to make sure students stay in their seats. The trouble with truancy has become so bad the school board says extreme measures are needed, if kids don’t go to class parents could go to jail.
Linda Fisher waits tables for a living, putting in 7-8 hours a day to support her four children. She says the importance of her kids attending school everyday can’t be stressed enough. “I want them to succeed in life. I don’t want them to have to struggle and they know they have to go to school for that.” But if hopes of a bright future didn’t provide enough incentive, maybe the new truancy policy adopted by the Iberville Parish Public School Board will.
Supervisor of Child Welfare William Bujol says if a student isn’t in class, the parents should be the ones in trouble with the law. “This is the last thing we want to see happen to arrest a parent because their kid is not in school.” Bujol says the parish’s public school system has the second worst graduation rate in the state; it’s a stat he says is easily explained. “We had students last year that had 70 days absent.”
Bujol says the parish has tried everything to keep the kids in school, beginning last fall he held conferences between students, their parents and the district attorney to outline the consequences of skipping class. But it didn’t completely fix the problem, so beginning last week, parents were arrested, brought to court, and charged. “Three parents were sentenced to 15 days in jail, four to 30 days in jail.”
Bujol says the Sheriff’s Department has even designated a deputy to work truancy cases full-time, hopefully sending a clear message to all parents that allow their children to skip school will not be tolerated. “We can’t teach them if they’re not there.”
The judge has suspended the sentences of the seven parents as long as their kids go to class, but if their kids skip, they’ll be forced to serve their time.