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Parkersburg's Truancy Diversion Workers Tell of Success

  6th Grade, Matt's Story

I met Matt, a 6 th grader, almost immediately after starting my job as a Truancy Diversion worker in April, 2010. Matt’s previous worker had left a list and detailed notes on certain students who needed continuing attention and he was on the list. Matt was missing a lot of school and tended to arrive late when he did come. His last worker had been picking him up and bringing him to school on her way to work. I noticed that during the time between workers, Matt had managed on several days to make it to school on time. This showed me he was capable. Matt and I talked about the days he’d been late, the need to be at school on time, and I reminded him that he had been able to get to school on time on his own.
As time went on, Matt began to miss school days again. I called his mom and scheduled a home visit. Matt’s mom was having a hard time waking Matt up in the mornings in time for the school bus. Because they had no car, the only other option was the city bus, something they couldn’t always afford. Matt’s mom agreed to call my cell phone when Matt missed the bus, and I would pick him up and get him to school. Matt’s mom also agreed to getting city bus passes for herself and her son to save on transportation costs. She mentioned that the bus passes would also make it possible for Matt to get to and from his doctor’s appointments as well. The medical appointments figured into Matt’s missed school days because they could get to the doctor’s office and back home, but were not able to get Matt back to school afterward.
Following the home visit and Matt receiving his city bus pass, Matt found he liked getting to school on his own. He made it to school on time and only missed a few classes due to doctor’s appointments. At the end of the year assembly, Matt received the Most Improved Student Award for his class. During a summer visit, Matt and his mom agreed that the Truancy Diversion program had provided encouragement and alternatives to help get Matt to school on time as well as encouraged him to do all of his school work and turn it in on time.

  7th Grade, Jack's Story

While it was late in the school year when I began working with the Truancy Diversion program for Van Devender Middle School in April, 2010, I was able to make a difference in a few students’ lives. One of my responsibilities was working with attendance during Westest week.
In the weeks prior to the Westest, I had noticed that Jack was late to school every day. I was constantly talking with him about being late and asking why. Jack’s answers included waking up late or getting hurt and being unable to ride his bike to school. His parents would tell me they had a hard time waking him up in the morning for school.
If Jack came to school late any day during Westest week, he would miss that entire day’s test and be consigned to the gym. The week before Westest week, I talked with Jack about the importance of the test, the overall importance of being on time for school every day and offered to assist him in any way with getting to school on time. Jack didn’t give me an answer, so I offered to give him a ride to school each day during Westest week and set up a “practice” run on Thursday.
When I got to Jack’s home at 7:15 on Thursday morning, his mother answered the door noting she was unaware I was picking Jack up and he was still in bed. I waited on the porch until I learned that Jack would not be ready to go for another 30 minutes. I had to leave so that I wouldn’t be late for school myself! Jack made it to school about 10 minutes late. When we talked, I tried to help him see how being late affects you in all aspects of your life.
On Friday, I arrived at Jack’s home about the same time and only had to wait five minutes or so for him. We were both on time for school that day and were ready for Westest week. Jack did miss one day of school during this important week because the family had been evicted from their home. Jack continued to come to school every day on time for the remainder of the year with the exception of three days when he was hospitalized with a broken arm. When this accident happened, his family came to the school immediately, brought me his notes and told me what had happened. Without Truancy Diversion contact with this family, I don’t believe that would have happened. I have commended Jack on being able to get to school on time on his own and encouraged him to do this next year, too.
Jack made it from 7 th to 8 th grade and I hope to see continued improvement from him during the coming year.

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