City Council to vote on truancy resolution

Posted at 4:42 PM, Nov 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-28 17:42:01-05

TULSA, Okla. -- The Tulsa City Council will vote on a proposed resolution to combat truancy at area schools Wednesday evening.

It’s not the first time the council has tackled the issue. When Tulsa Public Schools rejected the council’s first proposal, councilors went back to the drawing board. Now, they’re hoping to get the green light on a new plan with a pretty significant change.

“We had this task force going for the last six months and came up with a solution to have a ‘Therapeutic Court’ to get to the root of the problem of why families are having such a hard time getting to school,” Karen Gilbert, city councilor, said. “We wanted to help them rather than adding punitive damages on them, which is happening right now.”

Jenks and Union Public Schools liked the idea of having a program offering families social services, but TPS found it to be adding another layer for families already facing truancy court.

City councilors went back to work and are now proposing a new resolution to open a more public dialogue. 

“[We] are having them come and report on how they are doing with fighting truancy and chronic absenteeism and showing the city ‘OK we can do this, we’ve got it, we’ve got a good hold on it.’ We don’t want to push anything else on our families,” Gilbert said.

The hope is schools will be held accountable to improve truancy rates. For TPS, they’ve started piloting a program implemented by Impact Tulsa that will help them do just that.

“We look at being proactive about attendance,” Andrea Stacy associate director of early learning for Impact Tulsa said. “We know it’s important for kids to be in school every day.”

Impact Tulsa is reaching out to families and breaking down the barriers that keep kids from getting to school. They’ve also invented a predictive model to find which kids are chronically absent and how to change that.

“It can predict chronic absenteeism by the 20th day of school with an 86 percent accuracy,” Stacy said.

Impact Tulsa said those children will be recognized, and faculty and staff will work to develop sincere relationships with them and their parents. In turn, this will hopefully reduce absences.

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