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    Little Rock police dept., school district launching Truancy Center

    11:47 PM, Jan 7, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Little Rock police said they are not seeing a dramatic increase in students skipping school, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. They want to get a handle on it once and for all.

    During the school year from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., Monday through Friday, if a school age child is not in class and does not have an excuse, that child is truant.

    "In the past, when our officers made contact with young people, they've transported them to the nearest secondary school, and from there, they were then cited," said Sgt. Cassandra Davis with Little Rock Police.

    She said working truancy cases is a way to keep kids safe and out of trouble. Now, a new partnership with the Little School District will make it even easier.

    "With The Truancy Center, our officers, when they make contact with young people, they then transport them to the truancy center, and it's simply a central location for our officers to transport these young people to," said Sgt. Davis.

    The Truancy Center will open on Wednesday at the former Garland Elementary School on West 25th St. Officers will take students caught skipping class there, and after a phone call to their parents, the students will be disciplined and bused to their respective schools after noon. It's a solution Cathy Koehler, President of the Little Rock Education Association said could work.

    "I know that people have been working on this for two years. It's been a collaborative effort between the city and the district, and if this is the solution that they've come up with, let's try it because we need to do whatever we can to make our students successful," said Koehler.

    There are exceptions to the daytime curfew. Students who have a work study, a valid excuse from their class, or are with a parent won't be truant. As for those students expelled from school, Sgt. Davis said officers typically turn them over to their parents. Students caught in a criminal act while skipping school will not be taken to the truancy center. They will go straight downtown to the detectives division.

    Patrol officers are not allowed to pick up any truant before 9a.m., adhering to City Ordinance 16,564, Section 17.5-25:

    "It shall be unlawful for any minor to be upon the streets, sidewalks, parks, playgrounds, public places and vacant lots, or to ride in or upon, drive or otherwise operate or be a passenger of any automobile, bicycle, or other vehicle in, upon, or over or through the streets, or other public places between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., Sunday through Thursday, or 12:00 midnight and 5:00 a.m., Friday and Saturday. An amendment to this ordinance also provides for a daytime curfew to apply to these same circumstances, during the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. Monday through Friday."

    The daytime curfew only applies when school is in session.
    (Source: Little Rock Police Department press release)

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