LAUGHLIN — The Clark County School District’s Laughlin schools are taking a hard line with school truancy this year.
At the recent School Organization Team meeting held at Laughlin Junior/Senior High School, Principal Dawn Estes announced that attendance is an issue that she and her staff are taking seriously this school year.
Estes said a team of six officers visited 119 homes.
Estes said, “We had a lot of crying moms” over the visits aimed at reigning in the absenteeism issue at Laughlin schools.
She said that the common response from offenders parents was “Why didn’t you care last year?” Estes said that last year, and in years past, the school simply sent out letters to parents advising them to get a better handle on attendance at Laughlin schools. This year, school officials have taken the bull by the horns and are visiting homes to make parents aware of students not attending on a regular basis.
The issue goes back to CCSD standards of attendance, which can have an adverse effect on school ratings in a system where all metrics are measured to establish the quality of schools, levels of funding, national standing, reputation and that of the administrators as well. CCSD schools are expected to meet standards set by the Nevada State Board of Education and Estes and company are seeing to it that they do — one way or another.
Truancy is a national issue, not just a local one, and there can be some serious consequences for parents who fail to see that their children attend compulsory education on a regular basis. For instance, a juvenile court may impose several penalties against the parent or guardian of a truant teen. Common penalties include fines, attending parenting education courses or attending family counseling. In some states, that can mean real trouble for the parents or guardians of teens missing school on a regular basis. If found guilty of the misdemeanor, the parents can face fines and jail time for repeat offenses.
In Nevada the law states, “A Habitual Truant is one who has been declared a truant three or more times within one school year.” Under Nevada Revised Statute 392.144, if a student has too many unexcused absences, his or her driver’s license will be taken away for 30 days on first offense and 60 on second.
According to Nevada revised statutes, if a student has yet to obtain a license and has numerous unexcused absences, that student won’t be able to get a license until the situation is rectified. Students will have to print a form available on the Department of Motor Vehicles’ website which their respective schools will sign off on. Only then will they be able to obtain a license.
In the event a student has too many unexcused absences, a truancy officer will confiscate that student’s license and mail it to the Department of Motor Vehicles. If a student breaks the rules a third time, he or she will have to become compliant and repeat all the steps needed to obtain a driver’s license, including having a picture taken. If a student turns 18 years old during his or her ineligible period, that student still will not be able to obtain a license.
According to The Las Vegas Defense Group, parents of truant students in Nevada (meaning the parent or legal guardian of a pupil) may request a hearing before a person designated by the board of trustees of the school district in which the pupil is enrolled to appeal the imposition of any administrative sanctions pursuant to this section. The person designated by the board of trustees shall, not later than 30 days after receipt of the request, hold a hearing to review the reason for the imposition of any administrative sanctions. Not later than 30 days after the hearing, the person designated by the board of trustees shall issue a written decision affirming, denying or modifying the decision to impose administrative sanctions and mail a copy of the decision to the parent or legal guardian of the pupil.
Estes listed the stats for this year, stating that Bennett Elementary got 1.5 on a scale of 10 rating, Laughlin Middle School got a rating of 9 out of 15, and Laughlin High School received a rating of 3 out of 10 points on the issue. She said that chronic absenteeism is being addressed in a number of ways and that they are changing the way they address it at Laughlin schools. The onus this year will be on the school counselor’s office to handle the issue, and that Counselor Michelle Wright will now helm that program at the Laughlin schools.
Estes praised the officers for their work, adding that the schools will be doing a follow-up this spring.
“This is not going away, one and done” in terms of enforcement, Estes said. Estes cited “Edgar and Truancy,” the story of a Texas teen and his mother who found themselves being prosecuted in criminal court for his absenteeism in that state. Estes also cited the CTF 800 reports on the issue.
So, if your child is not attending school in Laughlin, be prepared. This year, representatives of the Laughlin schools will be coming to find out why.