Raleigh County takes truancy policy to the next level
BECKLEY, W.Va. -
Students in Raleigh county who are starting off this school year with low attendance will be sitting face to face with Judge Hutchinson this week.
Raleigh County is taking the seriousness of missing school to a whole new level this year.
"It's serious enough that a deputy sheriff is at their door," said Capt.. Mitchell Barley. Truancy letters are now being hand delivered. And once that happens, students and parents will appear in front of Judge Hutchinson.
"We're going to get them in, offer them the opportunity to fix their problem and if we need resources in the house to help them, we'll do that. But we have got to figure out why these kids are missing school," said Raleigh County Judge John Hutchinson.
Raleigh County sheriff's deputies are playing a big role when it comes to the kids with the lowest attendance... preschool and kindergartners.
"The first couple of times we received them that young I was just shaking my head like why are we going to a house where a 5-year-old is not going to school," said Barley. He added when dealing with a crime like truancy, they're not coming to be the bad guy, they're coming to help.
"To get a chance to hopefully change that image in a young child's life that means something to me," said Barley.
Another major goal this year is to streamline the entire process. Instead of hundreds of petitions stacking up in the magistrate's office, this year, they're coming straight to Judge Hutchinson where they will sit in front of him for their first hearing after just a few weeks of receiving the notice.
Judge Hutchinson said hopefully their first hearing is their last. But repeat offenders will not be tolerated.
"People don't seem to understand that if they don't get their kids to school and we can't fix the problem then we're going to step it up and it may ultimately end in the student being removed from the parents and removed from the home," said Judge Hutchinson.
Judge Hutchinson noted in his experience, about 90% of criminals he deals with on a daily basis do not have a high school education.