So they will now have to obey a judge. Many faced their fate in the first ever session of Truancy Court.
Jefferson High School Freshmen Kimberly Smith states, “School just gets boring after awhile."
It was that lack of enthusiasm for school that landed Smith in court. She missed 13 out of 40 days and was tardy 40 times. Her father, Ken Roeling was also required to be in court. Roeling states, “I didn't realize she was tardy that many times."
Thanks to a Truancy Ordinance, Rockford officials can punish those who consistently skip out on learning. Director of Education and Lifelong Learning tells 23 News, "We are really concentrating on the high school. All four high schools have high chronic truancy rates. As we know Rockford's rate if four times higher then the state average."
In truancy court students and parents have a choice. They can either pay a fine, take part in community service or attend a 6 hour deferred prosecution program through the YMCA and United Way. But one mom is adding on to the punishment. Jennifer Smith says that her daughter Kim, “Didn't learn. Kids at school in Jefferson might see me holding my daughters hand walking her to the classroom."
In the first session of Truancy Court about 50 students learned that rules are in place for a reason. These students all need to get an "A" in effort since the court will be giving them a report card in a few weeks. Truancy Court is going to be going on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. When we do the math that's about 150 students and parents who are going to be held accountable each week by the court of law. Under the Truancy Ordinance, a student cannot be absent from school more than 4 times without a valid excuse.