MASON CITY, Iowa — A northern Iowa prosecutor’s office has partnered with a local school district to address truancy.
The Cerro Gordo County Attorney’s Office launched the anti-truancy program with Mason City Schools about a year ago.
District official Jadie Meyer told the Mason City Globe Gazette that the program aims to work with students, parents and school officials to get children and teenagers back in school.
“The intent is to be proactive and have early communication with the family,” Meyer said. “We want to get all players together so we can all play a part.”
She said nine students and their families have been involved, though the number doesn’t represent the area’s truancy problem.
“Many schools handle truancy at their own level,” Meyer said.
Nichole Benes, an assistant county attorney, has worked on many juvenile cases. She said truancy is more than a school issue.
“Many truants are in juvenile court for other issues,” Benes said. “For some kids, free time means trouble. Delinquency means truancy.”
The program aims to identify what type of support a student needs.
“It might be more parental support, school support, mental health support,” said Meyers. “It could be a lot of things,”
Retired Juvenile Court Judge Gerald Magee serves as the program’s mediator. Magee said he works “to find out the reason for the truancy, work out solutions and prepare a written mediation agreement that everyone can live with.”
The program’s final mediation steps differ depending on the situation, said Benes. Young children don’t have to attend mediation sessions, but teenagers are often required, she said.
Magee is working on a similar program with Charles City and Nora Springs officials.
Information from: Globe Gazette, http://www.globegazette.com/