Monday, May 24, 1999

Group fights truancy in Boone, Gallatin


Court threat used on parents

BY SUSAN VELA
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A new effort to keep Boone and Gallatin county children from skipping school has landed a handful of parents/in district court.

        The parents have been told to get their children to class or risk being convicted of unlawful transaction with a minor.

        The tougher stance — and attempt to make parents more accountable — has worked, said David Mosmeier, director of Boone County Human Services, who spearheaded the new Youth Collaborative Effort about three months ago.

        .

        “The few we've already handled have really snapped into reality,” he said.,

        “(Truancy) has a real ripple effect that is destructive to, really, our whole society.”

        Boone County Human Services has three probation officers who work with about 200 juvenile offenders. Mr. Mosmeier formed the new Youth Collaborative Effort after realizing that the children skipping school were getting younger and making up about 30 percent of the agency's juvenile caseload.

        Truancy in Boone and Gallatin counties “is probably not as bad as in other areas of the state,” he said. “... But, nevertheless, we see quite a bit in the court system.”

        Now, about 30 school, court, legal and law enforcement and human services officials are working to figure out how to make juveniles realize that it's cool to go to school.

        Their goal is to have a sure set of recommendations before the next school year begins. They are considering ways to emphasize the importance of an education, which could include a nonfamily member calling the truant child in the morning, arriving at his doorstep, dressing the child and then taking the child to school.

        Bill Boyle, assistant superintendent of Walton-Verona Schools, says there are many reasons why children skip school, from living in an abusive home to having parents who let them stay up too late.

        Linda Rae Bramlage, family court judge for Boone and Gallatin counties, thinks a child's impetus to skip school usually begins at home. She says parents need to instill more values and morals in their children and put a greater stress on education.

        The group's next meeting will be 1:30 p.m., June 17, at the Maplewood Children's Home, Burlington. Information: 334-2116.

       



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