Kentucky Court of Justice
Meece Middle School designated as pilot site for new Truancy Diversion Program created by the Kentucky Court of Justice
Meece Middle School of Somerset Independent Schools has been designated as a pilot site for the new Truancy Diversion Pilot Program, which will eventually be available statewide. The Kentucky Court of Justice created the Truancy Diversion Program for students at risk of being charged with a truancy offense and referred to District Court or Family Court.
“Truancy, if not corrected, has been shown to be an early indicator of social, economic and legal difficulties that a young person may face in his or her adult life," said Circuit Judge, Family Court Division, Walter Maguire, who serves Lincoln, Pulaski and Rockcastle counties. “This program confronts absenteeism in its early stages and helps students break a negative pattern of persistent absences that often starts in their middle school years.” Judge Maguire will help oversee the Truancy Diversion Pilot Program in Pulaski County.
"Truancy is a problem that needs the attention of school personnel, parents, and the courts," said Nathan Nevels, principal of Meece Middle, Somerset Independent Schools. "We will begin this important new program for the young people of Pulaski County on March 12th with an initial enrollment of 11 students."
Students who have missed the number of days allotted for a school period or who have too many unexcused absences are subject to being charged with a truancy offense, which could create a formal court record. Truancy is a status offense, which means it is an act that would not be criminal if committed by an adult.
The program uses a team approach to help students develop good attendance habits and improve their overall educational experience. The team is made up of judges, court designated workers, school counselors, principals, directors of pupil personnel and family resource staff.
The Court Designated Worker Program, under the direction of the Department of Juvenile Services of the Administrative Office of the Courts, will facilitate the Truancy Diversion Pilot Program. Court designated workers will hold bi-weekly meetings with the parents and the student to review attendance records, behavior and grades, and develop a plan for success. Local judges will periodically attend meetings to reinforce the work of the truancy diversion team and offer encouragement and recognition to participating students who are making progress.
The Kentucky General Assembly created the Court Designated Worker Program in 1986 through legislation which provided the services of a court designated worker for each of the 120 counties. Court designated workers process complaints against individuals under the age of 18, and provide redress for offenses without court action and without the creation of a formal court record. The CDW program is overseen by the Administrative Office of the Courts, which is the operational arm of the Kentucky Court of Justice and supports the activities of more than 3,500 court system employees, including the elected offices of justices, judges and circuit court clerks.