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Columbus School District Truancy Program

One program in Southeast Kansas is working to keep kids from having unexcused absences.
COLUMBUS, KS.--- One program in Southeast Kansas is working to keep kids from having unexcused absences. The program helps students get better grades and improve attendance, as well as have better behavior in the community.

"In Kansas, a student is considered truant if they have three straight unexcused absences, five in a semester, or seven in a school year," said Karrah Smith, Cherokee County Truancy Officer.

"On a yearly basis, we probably deal with 10 to 15 students that are considered maybe a truant," said David Carriger, Columbus School District Superintendent.

Columbus School District Superintendent David Carriger says there are many variables why a student doesn't come to school.   

"Poverty is one of the big issues. Students maybe don't see a future, maybe an easier way is to drop out and make money," said Carriger. 

"It's important to figure out what those barriers are so that kids can overcome those barriers and become successful at school," said Smith. 

The school districts in Cherokee County help fund a truancy program at Spring River Mental Health and Wellness. The program keeps track of at risk students performance and behavior.

"Just teaching them, getting them on the right track and being part of the working world is a very important piece," said Smith. 

Cherokee County Truancy Tracking Officer Karrah Smith says the problem normally starts at home.    

"We try to work on empowering the family, empowering the parents. When the kids start running the home and they have no control, we try to bring that power back to the family," said Smith. 

Smith says the program tries to get students to think differently about their future.

"It breaks the cycle, some of these kids, their parents don't have high school diplomas, and it breaks the cycle of what they have been brought up into," said Smith. 

Smith says the truancy program in Cherokee County has had a 86% success rate. This means students monitored through the program are having good attendance, and graduating from school. There currently are 45 truant cases in the county the program is monitoring, this is 30 less from two years ago.
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