Truancy pilot program in Kennewick schools - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Truancy pilot program in Kennewick schools

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KENNEWICK, Wash--  As the school year quickly comes to a close, there are a number of students that won't make it to the finish line.  For some, it's because they stopped going to class.

"There's lots of different reasons why people are truant.  They may feel like they're trying to avoid class, that they don't understand the material," explains Mark German, counselor at Highlands Middle School.

That's why several schools citywide are offering the Why Try pilot program.

"It's aimed at students, who for a variety of reasons, may not be successful at school at this time.  Truancy is definitely one of the reasons we would have a student take the class," explains Diana Burns, assistant principal at Horse Heaven Hills Middle School.

The program is designed around nine steps, including pointing out murky waters, helping to remove labels, and eventually being able to overcome your obstacles.

"It talks to the students about you need to have desire, goals, passions in life and then if you're going to achieve those, you're going to have to put in the time and effort," adds Burns.

After five unexcused absences in a month the school recruits the juvenile justice center.  In the last year, Horse Heaven Hills called about six students, Highlands about eight.  By law students under 18 and no GED have to go to school.  And students should want to; workers with the juvenile justice center say you're four times more likely not to find work, earn about 2/3's the money, and statistics show jail time is often in their future.

If the courts get involved, you can be mandidated to attend class.  If you still don't go you could be put in juvey.  And parents listen up--you could also be fined $25 per unexcused absence if they're still not in class. 

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