YORK, Pa. — The York City School District is partnering with the York City Police Department to address truancy. The program, called the Juvenile Violence Truancy Initiative, funds a truancy officer to work with students this and next school year.
During the 2017-2018 school year, 37 percents of students at William Penn Senior High School were “habitually truant,” meaning they had at least six unexcused absences, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
The district’s school board voted Jan. 22 to accept $90,000 in grant money for the project, $60,000 coming from the state Department of Education and $30,000 from the York County Bar Association.
You can’t learn if you don’t show up, officials said. Studies suggest missing school is correlated with low academic achievement and dropping out.
“After you push people off the street corners and get them off the block, you get them back in the school and then you start to work together as a team,” said York City School District Police Chief Michael Muldrow, who will be heading the initiative.
The program isn’t just targeting truancy, Muldrow said. Rather, the program helps students in several aspects of their lives, both at school and at home; the main goal is reducing teen violence.
“The thought coming in may have been that it’s a truancy program. It’s not a truancy program, it’s a violent crime eduction program,” Muldrow said. “The purpose of the program is to try to get young people to stop killing each other.”
The grant money is a big help, school district officials said. Otherwise they couldn’t afford a truancy officer, as this year’s district budget runs a deficit of about $6.38 million.