School board to issue truancy warrants

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Monday, the Poplarville School Board approved an addendum to their policy for serving warrants for unexcused absences, which would authorize the city to pay Poplarville police officers $50 for every warrant served.
Poplarville School District Attendance Interventionist Lisa Magee said warrants are issued to parents or legal guardians after more than 12 unexcused absences from school.
When the summonses are served, parents are not arrested, but are made aware of their court date. At the time of their court appearance they will be responsible for paying $50 plus any courts costs and fines.
The district will put up the initial $50, but they will get it back, Magee said.
Bill Johnson, school attendance officer for the State of Mississippi, said a survey conducted by Mississippi State University of truancy, revealed a state average of 15 percent truancy. Poplarville is at 10 percent, he said.
However, Johnson explained that the percentage needs to be brought down to about five percent in order to compete with better school districts in the state.
Prior to issuing warrants, attempts to reach the parents are made either by letter, phone call or a home visit.
“We give them an opportunity to work it out,” he said. “But if they don’t, state law requires a petition.”
Johnson also explained that some of those unexcused absences occur when a student misses half a day but he looks for the students who missed entire days without an excuse.
Johnson said he wants to get the people who violated the law to court.
“I hope they will tell people that we’re taking them to court for missing school,” he said.
Magee said there are more unexcused absences at the lower elementary and high school. Many parents of the elementary students are of the mindset that the children are “little and it won’t matter if they miss school.”
At the high school level, Magee said students are given more free will to either leave, not show up to school or show up late.

In other action:
· The board recognized career and technology students for their advancement to national competitions. Kimberly Mitchell and Zachary Rice will compete in an international CPR competition, Poplarville School District Career Development Principal Marlene Cole said. After the death of a fellow student, Colby Haggard and Madeline Reed put together a Students Against Drunk Driving group in about a week and half, Cole said. DECA students Andrew Howard and Kayla Hughes wrote an inventory program for their learn and earn project. DECA student Bethany Coleman will be taking her 19-page essay on entrepreneurship to competition. She also taught the importance of entrepreneurship to a ninth grade STEM class.
· The board approved an adult culinary class, which will be taught in April on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. According to the district’s website, under the Career Development Center tab, anyone interested in learning time saving techniques, chef secrets and how to prepare healthy and quick homemade meals should contact Susan Alexander.
Classes are scheduled to begin April 12 through 28 and cost $25 a person for all six sessions. For more information contact Alexander at 601-795-1303 or via email at
The next board meeting will be held on May 9 at 6 p.m. in the boardroom on Julia Street.

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