Tennessee schools will have new truancy requirements

High School Lockers Generic
(AP Photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – With schools soon starting all over the state, they have some new guidance about an age-old problem: truancy.

There’s nothing new about kids not showing up for class, but state lawmakers hope schools increase efforts to keep them out of the juvenile court system for not showing up for school.

“It creates a fix for those that are being truant before you put them into the justice system,” said Memphis Democrat Antonio Parkinson who was one of the bipartisan co-sponsors of the measure.

McMinn County Republican John Forgety, who is a retired superintendent, told News 2 the bill deals with students who have five aggregated unexcused absences.

While parents are notified, they can also be called in a for a series of what’s called “progressive truancy interventions” with their child.

There are also a series of other options rather than juvenile court that schools could use, including sending the child to counseling, community service and even Saturday classes if truancy continues if other methods don’t.

“It’s invaluable to communities of color and poor communities because that is where a lot of these challenges are occurring,” said Rep. Parkinson.

Many school districts say they have already been doing all they can to keep kids out of juvenile court and in school, but now lawmakers here are requiring them to do it.

Schools can still refer a truant student to juvenile court, but only after all the new requirements have failed.

More information about the bill can be found at Capitol.TN.gov.