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Truancy Workgroup Members Co-Chairs – Honorable John Kuhn & Cynthia Stoltz, Esq. Members: Courts Common Pleas Judges, MDJs, Hearing Officers, Court Administrators.

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Presentation on theme: "Truancy Workgroup Members Co-Chairs – Honorable John Kuhn & Cynthia Stoltz, Esq. Members: Courts Common Pleas Judges, MDJs, Hearing Officers, Court Administrators."— Presentation transcript:


2 Truancy Workgroup Members Co-Chairs – Honorable John Kuhn & Cynthia Stoltz, Esq. Members: Courts Common Pleas Judges, MDJs, Hearing Officers, Court Administrators Child Welfare DPW, CYF Administrators, Managers, Social Workers Education PDE, PASA, PSBA, PAESSP, High School Principals, Education Law Center Juvenile Justice JCJC, Chief’s Association, PCCD

3 Workgroup Charge Gather information about critical systemic issues in PA regarding truancy Identify nationally recognized and PA truancy best practices Outline an approach and a series of recommendations for reducing truancy in PA

4 Mission and Guiding Principles for Pennsylvania’s Dependency System Pennsylvania’s child dependency system shall: Protect children who are habitually and without justification truant from school. Support the educational needs of all dependent children. Support families by stressing the importance of formal education for the child. Educate families in parenting and life skills. Identify all possible practices and strategies that address the needs of a child and family and encourage solutions which do not require court intervention. Utilize the Children’s Roundtable Initiative as a mechanism for local and statewide communication, decision making and leadership. Ensure strong and responsible leadership from all facets of the dependency system, beginning with our courts.

5 PA Truancy Efforts PA Attorney General’s Safety Action Plan Truancy Committee (2000) Statewide Truancy Task Force on School Attendance and Truancy Reduction (2004) Special Court Judges Association Truancy Workgroup (2007)

6 Statewide Truancy Task Force PA Truancy Toolkit Basic Education Circular (BEC) – Compulsory Attendance and Truancy Elimination Plan

7 What do we know about truancy?

8 Limitations on Existing Truancy Data No national truancy data exists Education truancy data is self reported by school districts Court data is limited to summary citations filed with the magisterial district courts Do not capture the number of children who are dependent and truant or delinquent and truant

9 Truant Students Personal Characteristics* Academic failure Poor social and emotional functioning Ethnic or racial diversity Health problems Inability to feel part of the ‘school culture’ *Washington State Institute for Public Policy

10 Causes of Truancy Vary by Individual May Include: – Family factors – School factors – Economic influences – Community factors

11 National Findings No national truancy data Hundreds of thousands of students are absent each school day without excuse Truancy is a risk factor for: –Academic failure –Health issues –Delinquent behavior

12 National Dropout Data 1.2 million teens between the ages of 16- 19 who were not in school and had not graduated from high school in 2007* Dropout ranged from 2% in North Dakota – 11% in Nevada PA ranked 19 th nationwide, where 6% (41,000) teens were high school dropouts *2009 Kids Count Data Book on State Profiles of Child Well-Being Annie E. Casey Foundation

13 What does truancy look like in PA?

14 PA Truancy Laws Compulsory School Age (no later than 8 -17) School board charged with setting policies governing pupil absences and lawful excuses “Habitually Truant” CYS involvement under and over age 13 Filing against the parent or child MDJ Penalties if found guilty

15 Failure to pay – certified to common pleas Dependent -“Habitually and without justification truant from school” PA Truancy Laws (cont.)


17 Year Total PA School Population Total PA Habitually Truant K-12 Percent Habitually Truant 20071,821,383147,1888.08% 20081,843,194148,9398.08% 20091,787,351154,9048.67% PA State Total Habitually Truant 2007-2009

18 SY 08-09 School Population by Gender (K-12) Male 909,718 51% Female 859,392 49% Male 81,237 52% Female 73,667 48% SY 08-09 Habitually Truant by Gender (K-12)

19 SY 08-09 Total School Population vs. Total Habitually Truant Population 50%25%



22 YearTotal Citations Citations against Juvenile Citations against Parent or Guardian Juveniles Certified to Court of Common Pleas for failure to pay fines Total fines collected and paid to School Districts 200766,30717,85248,4554,542$1,589,199 200868,04618,15949,8874,705$1,454,887 200957,55516,51741,0382,707$709,153 Magisterial District Court Truancy Data

23 LRT Survey Results 90% truancy was an issue of concern in their county

24 LRT Survey Results Cont. 42% truancy was being effectively handled –Stakeholder collaboration –Standardized protocols –MDJ uniforimty in handling truancy cases –Timely responses

25 LRT Survey Results Cont. 30% truancy was not being effectively handled –No collaboration –Inconsistency in handling referrals –Not addressing the problem in elementary school –Filing MDJ citations too late in the school year –Not utilizing the TEP

26 LRT Survey Results Cont. 65% do not have a cross systems truancy reduction program 50% use a truancy protocol 65% do not have a liaison between the school districts and the court

27 LRT Survey Results Cont. 36% have an educational representative on their local children’s roundtable Only 5 counties reported having an MDJ on their local children’s roundtable’ 65% indicated their was no “sense of urgency” about truancy in their community

28 Recommendations

29 Truancy Workgroup Recommendation 1 Demonstrate Effective Collaboration Efforts Including Sharing the Accountability and Responsibility for Truancy

30 Truancy Workgroup Recommendation 2 Create an Educational Culture/Climate that Prioritizes Students’ Connection to their School and Engages Families

31 Truancy Workgroup Recommendation 3 Implement Specific Strategies with Measurable Outcomes Targeting Prevention, Early Identification and Intervention

32 Truancy Workgroup Recommendation 4 Track Truancy Data and Program Outcomes and Share Information with Stakeholders

33 Truancy Workgroup Recommendation 5 Build Sustainable Funding Bases and Allocate Resources Based on Data Informed Decisions and Partnerships that Maximize Efficiencies

34 Next Steps 1.Implementation Strategies Support for communities to implement the recommendations Communicate the message about the urgency of truancy

35 Next Steps 2.Collaborate with JCJC to identify truancy laws needing clarified or altered

36 Next Steps 3.Engage the medical community as a valued partner in addressing truancy at both the state and local levels

37 Next Steps 4.Explore possible surveys and other tools that communities can utilize to assess local truancy issues

38 5 Things Local Children’s Roundtables can do 1.Read the Report 2.Review your County’s School Truancy Data 3.Bring the Information back to the Local Children’s Roundtable 4.Start Identifying Community Stakeholders who may be Interested in discussing Truancy Issues 5.Begin a dialogue with Stakeholders

39 “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need to respond, I consider those people my heroes.” - Fred Rogers

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