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Williams County Courts Juvenile Division Establishing County Wide Attendance Officer

In collaboration with the school districts in Williams County, the Common Pleas Court, Juvenile division has established a position of a county wide attendance officer for the 2021-22 school year.

“COVID has created havoc on attendance issues with students within the district”.  According to Williams County Common Pleas Court Judge, Karen K. Gallagher, “Truancy was already an issue and with the move to on-line school last year for part of the year and then returning to in-person school to complete the year, the number of truancy cases that came before the Court increased dramatically.”

“The Court has worked tirelessly with the schools to develop a plan and procedures to ensure that children within the school district will attend school for this coming year and reduce attendance issues. “

When House Bill 410 was implemented for the 2017-18 school year, it required school districts to adopt a policy to address school absences and to consult with the Juvenile Court in developing their policies.

“While schools and the Court have separate rules and responsibilities under the law, addressing student absenteeism is ultimately a collaborative effort”, stated Judge Gallagher.

“The ultimate goal is that issues are resolved and the student and the family do not have to appear in Court.”

The Court, with contribution from each school district, has hired Gale Horn, a retired officer from the State Highway Patrol, who worked in the Edgerton and Edon school districts for the last two years as a truancy officer.

Mr. Horn will begin his duties in August 2021 and be responsible to monitor attendance and assist the students in all the districts. Mr. Horn will work with school personnel and with families to address issues of attendance early in the process, to identify barriers that are causing the student to miss school and take appropriate steps to resolve those issues.

The Court and the schools will make referrals to truancy mediation to provide a means for the issues to be resolved. This process gives the families and the schools an opportunity to voice their issues and concerns that are causing the student to miss school.

The efforts of the schools and the attendance officer will pave the way for the student to be present at school and to maximize the opportunity for the student to be educated.

Judge Gallagher states “school attendance programs have to be designed to encourage and foster collaboration among the schools, families and the Court.

A student’s educational success or lack thereof certainly impacts the community in which the student lives.  And just as importantly the community where the child learns and grows, will impact the student’s engagement and success in school.

This is why we all have to work together to have an end result of educated youth which serves to build stronger families and communities.”


Source: The Village Reporter

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