Moss Point School District sees decrease in truancy

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Fewer students are skipping school in Moss Point thanks to the district's strict truancy program.

The district began an initiative to prevent students from cutting class in 2007.  Since then, the district reports attendance has increased one point five percent at all eight schools in Moss Point.

Now the superintendent wants more parental involvement in the program to keep kids off the streets.

"Kids need to be in school to get an education and not hanging on the corner," Truancy Officer Jeff Bridges said.

Officers Bridges and Jeff Jolly don't except excuses when it comes to students skipping classes.

"After five days of straight absences, unexcused absences, and each student is reported to the state attendance officer and the parents," Jolly explained the truancy laws. "After 12 days, the state truancy officer can take the parent to court."

The men said they have been successfully combating truancy in Moss Point.

"When I first started the program two years ago, I had gotten 20 some in GED and maybe 30 something back in school," Jerry Bridges said about the success rate of the program.

Recent graduate Harvey McMillan admits he was one of those school skippers, but he eventually turned his life around.

"I was not taking school as serious as I should," McMillan said about the beginning of his 12th grade year.

"They really care and they come out into the neighborhood," McMillan said. "Me, Mr. Jolly, and also Mr. Bridges sat down and they gave me the importance of finishing high school."

Superintendent Kim Staley said in two years, the district-wide attendance rate has shot up to nearly 95 percent.  He feels that's a big jump from previous years.

"Our goal is to have 100 percent participation every day."

Staley said to keep kids learning in the classroom, he will encourage more parents to start getting involved this school year.

"We are going to make contact with every parent. It will be an initial contact by my teachers and administrative staff," Staley said. "I think sometimes when we show that personal interest, it really makes a difference in a child's life."

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.