For Rockford Superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson, truancy isn't a concern limited to individual offenders. Instead, it's a toxic and destructive problem affecting the entire community.
"High school dropouts have a little chance of leading a productive life. Their choices are slim. They have no other choice but to turn to crime," Thompson said.
Rockford's schools well documented statistics of chronic truancy four times the state average is one of Thompson's chief hurdles in moving District 205 forward. It's an issue the superintendent admits could use tougher punishments from Springfield.
"We have a number of parents who wash their hands and say it's too difficult. You know, they're not going to do what I say. They expect us to pick up the parents’ role and, we can't do that," Thompson said.
That's where our local lawmakers come into play. 67th District Rep. Chuck Jefferson is sponsoring legislation that would take away driver’s licenses for truants.
"We have to do something to address truancy in the schools. Truancy is a huge problem in District 205," Jefferson said.
It's unknown if the new rule will be passed with only 13 days left in the legislative session. The legislation could stand alone, or be tacked on as part of another bill. However, lawmakers are confident the issue isn't if when the bill will be passed, but if its language would be set district by district, or on a statewide level.
"It's like a partnership. You don't go to school, you don't drive, and I think it sends a good message that you need to be in school, that if you aren't in school we're going to revoke that driver's license," Jefferson said.
Students making the choice not to go to class; students losing the precious privilege to drive is a proposal which could soon be a reality for Illinois pupils.