MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - The Moss Point School District is getting some help catching students who skip school. The school board has made truancy one of its top five priorities this year.
On Thursday, the superintendent appealed to the community to help make sure students show up for class. A group of community leaders, city officials, and school principals gathered at the Moss Point School District office to figure out how to tackle the truancy problem.
"I was shocked at the number of children that are not even enrolled in school," one man commented.
"It is a concern. If they're not here, we cannot teach them. So we lose them anyway. And if they're not here with us, where are they?" asked Dr. Maggie Griffin, Moss Point Schools Superintendent.
"Whether that child is in school, our job is to go out and find out why," the school board president told the group.
Those who came expressed their commitment to help the district reach its goal of raising the student attendance rate from the current 93-percent to at least 96-percent by the end of this school year.
"We're concerned about them walking around in the middle of the day when we know they should be in school being educated," said Rev. Larry G. Hawkins, Sr. "We're volunteering our time and our services and our organizations, such as our churches and our community groups, to be available to assist the school district."
The police chief also plans to dedicate resources and manpower to track down children who should be in school.
"I just believe that if we get out there and we do a very hard beginning to this, we're going to send a message to children and we're going to get those classrooms filled back up," said Chief Keith Davis.
"If our children are in school, then we can address those issues and concerns that we have as far as academics," said Griffin.
The superintendent urged those community leaders and city officials to go out and spread the word about the district's attendance goal. That means getting everyone involved, including parents, neighbors, and people who are out and about during the day. After all, they are the eyes and ears of Moss Point.
"I can't do this alone. We cannot do it as a school district alone," said Griffin. "We just all have to work together and combine our efforts to make it a successful effort and I think we can do that."
The superintendent said if student attendance goes up, that should help the district meet its two other goals: Boost the graduation rate by five-percent and reduce the dropout rate by five-percent.