OPSO Truancy Enforcement
As we begin the 2015-2016 school year in Ouachita Parish, the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office Truancy Division is gearing up to make every day count for every student. Louisiana State Law basically mandates children between ages 7-18 attend school. Parents are also legally bound to see that the child attends as required by the law. The law allows a student to incur no more than 5 unexcused absences or tardies per semester before facing penalties. The Truancy Division is dedicated to assisting students and parents that are not in compliance regarding absences and tardies.
The deputies normally begin working with students and parents upon the 4th unexcused absence or tardy. A referral form is submitted to the deputies when the 4th absence or tardy of a student occurs and for each one after that. Once a student is referred, a parent or guardian will be contacted by the deputies in an attempt to correct the truancy problem. Though truancy deputies work hard with students and parents individual circumstances to correct the problem, if the absences or tardies continue, legal action can be taken. This would include but not be limited to home visits, monitoring, truancy citations to the parents, referrals to other appropriate state agencies or actual arrest summons being issued to both the parent and/or student for violation of the truancy statutes.
For the 2014-2015 school year, the Truancy Division received 5,242 truancy referrals from 36 Ouachita Parish Schools. While most cases were able to be resolved without follow-up, 33 summonses were issued, 16 actual arrests were made, 18 reports were filed and 21 citations issued. One hundred-fifty six cases were referred to Families in Need of Services for review.
The Truancy Division is comprised of three full-time Ouachita Sheriff’s Deputies: Sgt. Earl Henry, Dy. Leha Odom and Dy. Jared Benjamin.