School officials focus on motivating students to curb truancy

Local - 2/24/2014 5:43 PM by Karen Franklin

BECKLEY - Courts, schools and social workers are teaming up to improve student attendance in southern West Virginia.

Judy Lively works at the Fayette County Board of Education and oversees truants. She and others believe tackling the problem will give society a leg up.

“A child or a student has to have something in hand when they get out into the workforce,” Lively told WOAY. “A community suffers if it's not an educated workforce.”

Fayette County Schools Superintendent Keith Butcher works from the same office.

“We want to create classrooms and assignments that are engaging, and the students will want to attend, and I guess the third piece of that is we want to make sure we have rewards in place but also follow that with consequences for situations when we need to make sure students aren’t doing their best to attend,” Butcher said.

Lively and Butcher team up with other agencies to find the reasons behind a child's absenteeism. Their last resort is involving the court.

“The much more successful thing to do is to intervene before a student or their family gets to that time, so again we want to support the family and support the students so that we can improve attendance and do everything on the positive side because we do know that's more effective,” Butcher said.

Jim Brown is superintendent of Raleigh County schools. He said a key to high student attendance is motivation.

“Kids enjoy -- students enjoy coming to school every day,” Brown said. “They understand that it's meaningful. If culture and climate at their school is positive, then you see those schools usually have a high attendance rate.”

Officials stress that their intervention is intended to help, not hurt.

“Their success is based upon their education,” Lively told WOAY. “So it's frustrating to think why a child would not want to go to school and not get their education and not want to be the best they can be.”


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