D.A. warns of Dougherty School truancy crackdown - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

D.A. warns of Dougherty School truancy crackdown

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The Dougherty District Attorney warns parents and students about a crackdown on truancy.

He says making sure kids go to school will improve academic success and cut down on crime.

The Dougherty Student Attendance Protocol Committee plans to ramp up efforts to cut truancy first at elementary schools.  And the D-A says parents will be prosecuted if their students are not in school.

The Dougherty Grand Jury in their presentments said truancy is an important crime issue.

7:15:36 Grand Jury foreman Steve Shellhaas said "We recommend a strong enforcement of truancy laws, including sanctions on parents and penalties for truant children."

The District Attorney, Judicial, and School Board officials say truancy is a major factor in Albany crime, drug, and gang problems.

District Attorney Greg Edwards said "Juveniles who are not in school wind up doing things out in the streets that cause us all problems. Crime increases with juvenile truancy, so we want to prevent that."

The schools now are able to provide better tracking information services for law enforcement. The D.A. says that will help Albany Police and School Police step up truancy patrols.

Edwards said "Yes, and we are gong to prosecute parents and kids. And certainly I want that to be clear."

The emphasis first will be on stopping unexcused absences by elementary school students.

Edwards said "In the elementary school level we are looking at parents having a lot more control over the child, and also has a lot more opportunity to form good habits for the child."

Grand jurors said their work was an eye opener about Albany crime, and kids who should be in school.

Shellhaas said "This experience for us as Grand Jurors just kind of opens up the box a little bit and we can peak in. And there is just a lot of work to do."

And the District Attorney says the schools and law enforcement will make sure unexcused absences are cut.

The D.A. Says even home schoolers are bound by the curfew law. Anyone between the ages of 4 and 18 cannot be in public between 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM, unless accompanied by an adult.

A truancy violation is a misdemeanor that carries a fine up to  $100, and up to 30 days in jail. Each day's absence is a separate offense.

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