Title

Truancy Court? What now?

Focused Area

Youth-At-Risk in Urban Settings

Relevance to Focused Area

Youth At Risk in all educational settings, Urban and Rural

Truancy is any unexcused absence from school. State laws vary on the number of absences and the criterion age of the offender, but all states recognize truancy as criminal behavior. Truancy is considered a status offense – an act that is a crime due to the age of the offender. Truancy is a concern for all communities; some metropolitan areas report thousands of unexcused absences each day, creating a substantial problem for schools, law enforcement, and the larger community. Truancy is an early indicator to a larger issue that oftentimes requires more than services provided in schools. Relationships, focusing on student strengths, and providing positive community and school support systems will lead to positive student outcomes.

Primary Strand

Family & Community

Relevance to Primary Strand

Home, Family, Community and School strand

Truancy is not soley an educational issue, it is a community issue. Studies show that truancy is oftentimes is an indicator of a deeper issue for lack of school engagement and academic success. Implementing early warning systems in schools that report student progress is necessary to provide interventions so students will not drop out. The average drop out costs a community on the average of more than $350,000 throughout the lifetime of the dropout. This session will provide information regarding best practices in Truancy and Problem Solving Courts.

Brief Program Description

This presentation discusses how to reduce the truancy rate by identifying the causes of truancy and implementing effective interventions in order to give all children the educational opportunities they deserve. Community Collaboration is key in creating effective truancy courts, and must include mental health centers, social service agencies, schools, community resource agencies, and most importantly the student and support systems.

Summary

In this session we will explore why it take a community to address the services to chronically truant students. Judges need collaborative systems in order to avoid the use of detention. Imposing strict sanctions requires a system – a system that relies on cooperation between schools, police, probation departments, and detention centers. Providing effective support services requires a system as well – one that incorporates social service agencies, mental health providers, and school personnel in addition to the court. Once a system is in place, it is much easier to get children the services they need. Therefore, many of the alternatives to detention that will be discussed require some degree of cooperation with other agencies, most frequently the school and social service or child welfare agencies. Although creating cooperative arrangements among agencies that have not worked together before may seem daunting, once a need is widely recognized, it may not be as difficult as it seems. A number of resources are available to help. This session will discuss outcomes and strategies of the effective use of truancy and problem solving courts.

Evidence

Data will be presented to communicate effective strategies when designing a problem solving truancy court. Recent studies will cite proposed solutions and approaches to address truant behaviors so students can successfully reengage in an academic setting. Finding the most supporting academic environment and addressing the root causes of the truant behaviors will prove to have positive academic and social emotional outcomes for the student.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Terri Martinez-McGraw has served in a variety of roles related to children and families over the past 30 years, both in Colorado and nationally. Ms. Martinez-McGraw is currently the Executive Director of the National Center for School Engagement.

Terri was the Chief Officer for Student Support Services for GOAL Academy, the nation’s largest online alternative charter school. She created wraparound and mental health services for students who did their studies online. She also managed Title One, Family Engagement, Special Education, Adult Education and Experiential Education programs for students and families. Prior to her service with GOAL Academy, she was the Director of Student Support Services for Pueblo City Schools, in Pueblo Colorado. In that capacity she implemented an effective truancy reduction program that entailed collaboration with the greater Pueblo community and the 10th Judicial District Court, and created a family advocacy program called Project Respect, which was recognized as one of the top truancy reduction programs in the United States. She has authored and assisted in the writing of many successful grants to serve “at promise” students. Terri is also a certified trainer in Love and Logic for Parents and Teachers.

Ms. Martinez-McGraw received her bachelor’s degree majoring in Social Work and Spanish. She received a master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Colorado and School Principal’s Certification in Educational Leadership from the University of Northern Colorado. In addition, Ms. Martinez-McGraw’s work has included Special Education Teacher, Adolescent Mental Health Therapist, Day Treatment Teacher, Truancy Officer, and Assistant Principal for an alternative high school. Ms. Martinez-McGraw has served as a consultant to numerous school districts in addressing the reduction of school dropout and truancy rates along with improving school engagement, graduation, completion and attendance rates for ALL students. Her specialty is community engagement, encouraging community agencies to collaborate and partner with schools to provide services to families and students. Terri, most importantly, is a mother of two sons and a foster mother to 11 children in 13 years, serving the most “at promise” children in foster care.

Terri has roots in Colorado and ongoing interests in public education, online learning, family preservation and support. She is active in community programs serving on the Senate Bill 94 Committee for 12 years, is a member of the Latino Chamber of Commerce, and Board President of the Alia J. Carrillo Foundation.

Retired Honorable Judge Dennis Maes

The Honorable Dennis Maes graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1972. He lives in Pueblo, Colorado where he spent his entire legal career practicing law until his appointment to the District Court bench in 1988. He was appointed by the Colorado Supreme Court to serve as the Chief District Court Judge in 1995 and served in that capacity until his retirement in May, 2012. Judge Maes presided over a variety of dockets but devoted the latter part of his career with an emphasis on water law, mental health law, juvenile delinquency court and truancy court. The truancy court model addressed issues involving student engagement, truancy reduction, dropout prevention and the root causes of truancy. The model dedicated 3 dockets per week to truancy matters. He was instrumental in the passage of legislation that changed the mandatory school attendance age from seven to sixteen to the present law that requires school attendance from the ages of six to seventeen. He also worked with others in the drafting and adoption of a school attendance policy and with the Colorado Supreme Court to designate truancy court as a problem solving court which enabled the court to address truancy issues in a more timely fashion. Judge Maes is a frequent presenter on truancy issues and its causes, including a significant background in the emotional and mental health of children. He has presented locally, statewide and nationally. He also partnered with others in the production of two videos involving truancy and removing the stigma of mental health treatment. He serves on numerous boards locally and statewide.

Start Date

11-5-2015 5:45 PM

End Date

11-5-2015 6:45 PM

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Nov 5th, 5:45 PM Nov 5th, 6:45 PM

Truancy Court? What now?

This presentation discusses how to reduce the truancy rate by identifying the causes of truancy and implementing effective interventions in order to give all children the educational opportunities they deserve. Community Collaboration is key in creating effective truancy courts, and must include mental health centers, social service agencies, schools, community resource agencies, and most importantly the student and support systems.