Crackdown On Truancy Having Big Impact In Yakima - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Crackdown On Truancy Having Big Impact In Yakima

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YAKIMA--The Yakima School District is cracking down on truant students, and the results are showing.

It took a community approach between the district and police.

They wanted to stop kids from skipping school because they could see how it affects the drop out rate and daytime crime. 

Your first thought upon seeing all the kids at the Kiwanis Skate Part Thursday afternoon might have been:  all these kids are skipping school.  Maybe five years ago, it did look like this.  On Thursday students were actually dismissed from school early.

Several years ago police and teachers set up a system where officers could pick up truant kids and take them back to school.

"Everybody put their heads together to figure out two things:  why aren't these kids in school and where should they be," Capt. Greg Copeland said.

The extra enforcement has lowered truancy rates.  That improves Yakima's dropout rates too.

"[Yakima's] dropout rate about 4-5 years ago was probably one of the highest in the state," Rod Bryant, Yakima School District Truancy Director, said.  "Now we [have one] of the lowest."

Fewer truant students is also making Yakima safer.  Daytime crimes are down.

"Oftentimes the suspects [in daytime crimes] were kids who were supposed to be in school," Copeland said.

Yakima teachers are setting up lessons that do a better job of fitting student interests.  But,  it doesn't always work.

"We try and give them a reason to come to school," Bryant said.  "We have some students that will just tell you, school's not for me."

Bryant said it is not just the school's responsibility.  He thinks it is also on the parents and businesses where kids hang out.

"This is not just a school thing, truancy affects the entire community."

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