Moats, whose circuit includes Taylor and Barbour counties, shared details of his program with state board members during their June board meeting. He also pleaded that more action needs to be taken by all parts of the government, especially the judiciary branch, to tackle this growing problem.
“If kids are not in school, they are not learning,” said state Superintendent Jorea Marple. “It is so intrinsic for students in our state to be in school. Research shows that students with low attendance rates are more likely to drop out.”
Moats said that student truancy is not only affecting those students missing school, it is affecting the school system, judicial system and society in general. He believes the root of the problem lies with attendance policies. According to data from Taylor and Barbour counties, more than 50 percent of students miss more than 10 days of school.
“When students are not in school they are giving up their constitutional right to free education,” Moats said.
Moats included personal experiences he has faced in the courtroom, such as stories of children in kindergarten and first grade missing up to 50 days of school in one year. He urged the board to consider formulating a policy that targets truant children at the elementary level.
If excessive truancy is not corrected early on, it will lead to behavioral problems later, he said. Moats offered many solutions but said the key to solving this problem is a collaborative effort from the entire community.
“Student truancy must be fought as a war; a war that has to be won,” he said.
Marple has planned an August meeting of stakeholders to address the issue.
For more information, contact the Office of Communications at 304-558-2699.