It's a right of passage. Turn 17 and no one can legally make you go to school. But up until last year, state law allowed 16-year-olds to choose their own fate. This is causing a major blow to the Freeport School District, truancy is up 13-percent from last year.
"We have a lot of 16-year-olds that don't unfortunately don't want to be here for one reason or another and they're waiting for that 17th birthday to come up," says Neal Trainor, Associate Principal for Freeport High School.
Freeport has one truancy officer working the district, dishing out up to 25 truancy tickets per week. Those tickets often result in ten to 25-dollar fines or community service. This helps make up for the 35-hundred dollars in state aid lost per week from students skipping school. But it's not the money school leaders are worried about.
"When test time comes around these students aren't prepared to take the standardized tests which therefore hurts our district score," Trainor says.
District leaders want to hold parents more accountable and will try helping them out by offering a parenting course possibly in the fall.
The Freeport School District says it'll consider implementing a similar plan to the one here in Rockford. But district leaders say they want to wait until Rockford's truancy ordinance is deemed a success before investing in any major programs.