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Snapshot: Truancy Summit Convened by Grundy-Kendall Regional Office of Education

Regional Superintendent Paul Nordstrom said school attendance in Grundy and Kendall was already more than 90 percent.

The Grundy-Kendall Regional Office of Education presented a Truancy Summit for school employees Aug. 28 at the in Yorkville.

More than 140 counselors, social workers, police resource officers, nurses, attendance secretaries, and administrators attended the half-day event.

Regional Superintendent Paul Nordstrom welcomed the attendees and reported that school attendance in Grundy and Kendall was already quite good being over 90 percent. Nordstrom said that the purpose of the Truancy Summit was to share the best practices of individual school districts and communities. He forecasted that the Summit would lay the groundwork for improving attendance for years to come in Grundy and Kendall.

Assistant Superintendent Chris Mehochko was the moderator of the Summit. As assistant superintendent, Mehochko convenes truancy hearings after schools have exhausted their attendance measures on truant cases.

“We want to address truancy problems as soon as possible in a student’s career,” said Mehochko. “The pattern of poor school attendance usually begins in the early elementary years. Then over time the problem compounds and then it is too late to recover.”

The first panel presentation was from Brenda Karales, Assistant State’s Attorney of Kendall County; Bill McSherry, Assistant State’s Attorney of Grundy County; and Mitch Conwell, Juvenile Justice Coordinator of Grundy County. They explained how the courts get involved and offered suggestions on school attendance record-keeping.  Many audience members offered that schools need to clearly explain the difference between excused and unexcused absences.

The second presentation was from Resource Officer Tim Kolowski from . Kolowski explained the Yorkville Truancy Ordinance which, among other things, allows police officers to give $25 citations to truant youth.

Laurel Mateyka, Assistant Principal of Plano High School, gave a presentation about her school’s policies that have helped to improve attendance in recent years. A panel from Plano, consisting of Jennifer Cave, social worker; Eve Phillips, counselor; and Sue Gerardot, health services supervisor, discussed their roles in carrying out the policies.

Other schools and people who made presentations on what’s working in their buildings were: Lisa Adler, assistant principal of ; Joy Howard, social worker from Thompson Junior High School in Oswego; Tracy Steffes, district nurse of Morris Community High School; and  Michelle Painter, guidance counselor from Coal City Middle School.

KEVIN BROWN September 06, 2012 at 04:50 PM
In ecomomys and a depressive state this country is in right now you will have more kids go to school and not be truant not out of the need for an education but to get the free meals of food kids may only get one good meal a day and school are the ones where they may find it.
Dani September 06, 2012 at 09:19 PM
I don't understand why this is necessary? If a parent decides that there child is not to go to school that day then they should not be second guessed. This comes down to money and the schools not wanting to risk not get every dime from the state.
Ann Jost September 07, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Because it's a law in the State of Illinois that all children between the ages of 7 and 17 attend school. You are right. It does come down to money. But not how you think. These kids that have attendance issues in elementary school become truants in middle school and drop out in high school. Without an education, they cannot get a decent job, so they end up in the welfare system and the kids that did go to school end up supporting the lazy ones that didn't...everything boils down to time and money. And I would rather spend my money paying someone to help keep kids in school.
Loreta J. September 07, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Definition: Truancy is any intentional unauthorized or illegal absence from compulsory schooling. The term describes absences caused by students of their own free will, and usually does not refer to legitimate "excused" absences, such as ones related to medical conditions. Kids and parents need to know this is the law, it's important, and it's vital to the future of these kids to attend school every day. If they're not in school, they not contributing to their own futures and productivity, and parents need to make sure their kids are in school.

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