Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office Truancy Division
The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office Truancy Division is gearing up to make every day count for every student. Louisiana State Law 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 2017-2018 school year, the Truancy Division received 6,262 truancy referrals from Ouachita Parish School System. While most cases were able to be resolved without follow-up, 19 summonses were issued, 10 actual arrests were made, 3 reports were filed and 4 citations issued. One hundred-fifty three cases were referred to Families in Need of Services for review.
Sheriff Jay Russell commended the work of the deputies assigned to the Truancy Unit. “We are committed to this program and working with our youth. The deputies’ efforts have made a difference in the truancy rate as the number of cases has declined each year” Sheriff Russell stated. “The rate has declined 54% since 2014, largely due to their efforts working together with Ouachita Parish School board personnel.” School year 2014-2015 ended with an 18.8% rate, while the following year, 2015-2016 declined to 13.9%. The year 2016-2017 continued the trend, falling to an 11.8% rate. Last year, 2017-2018, ended with an 8.7% rate.
Sgt. Earl Henry, S.P. Deputy Leha Odom and Dy. Sonya Coates are assigned to the Truancy Unit.