For Immediate Release
March 15, 2011
For More Information:
John Ivanic, (614) 645-6798
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City Council to Strengthen Truancy Program in Columbus
The Columbus City Council will soon consider legislation that will provide funding for an already successful truancy program designed to protect Columbus residents from crime and reinforce the importance of being in school and getting a good education. Councilmember Michelle M. Mills, chair of the Public Safety Committee, is sponsoring legislation that will spend $100,000 to operate a truancy center under the direction of the YMCA in cooperation with Columbus City Schools and Columbus Police.
“Truancy is a problem that can easily lead to more serious criminal activity if not dealt with in a concentrated manner,” said Councilmember Michelle M. Mills. “Both students and parents must be held accountable for their actions and realize the long term harm to the students, and in the end, society when a young person is truant.”
The YMCA currently operates two Truancy Intervention Centers in Columbus, one at St. John’s Church, 640 South Ohio Avenue and another at the Feddersen Recreation Center, 3911 Dresden Avenue. During the 2009-10 school year, 1434 students were dropped off at the centers. YMCA leaders say they are on pace this year to top the 1500 student mark, making future funding all that more important to complete their mission of helping families understand the impact truancy has on the student and society.
“These centers give police a safe place to bring students when they have been picked up on city streets,” said John Bickley, President and CEO of the YMCA. “Through on-site counseling and parenting workshops, we hope to give students and families the tools they need to stay in school and further their education. In more serious cases, outside agencies like the Buckeye Ranch maybe contacted.”
The truancy centers also allow Columbus City Schools personnel the chance to evaluate the causes of truancy among individual students, identify patterns of behavior and develop strategies to address the root causes of truancy.
“When students miss a significant amount of time in the classroom, it maybe a symptom of a more serious problem in their home life,” said Mary Ey, Chief Officer Student Support Service for Columbus City Schools. “Truancy is widely recognized as a gateway activity to more serious criminal behavior later in life. So it only makes sense to make every effort to correct this behavior before it leads to bigger problem in the months or years that follow.”
The Columbus Division of Police has assigned 9 officers to fight truancy in 5 police zones.
“The Columbus Division of Police has seen a significant reduction in daytime property crimes since truancy enforcement began in 2007,”said Bob Meader, Commander of the Property Crimes Bureau. “The YMCA truancy program is a key component of the program because it provides a safe environment to hold youth who are detained for being truant during school hours or those referred by Columbus City Schools for prior truancy violations.”
Council is expected to vote on the truancy funding ordinance April 4.