ST. LANDRY PARISH, La. (KLFY) — After receiving complaints of truancy at St. Landry Parish schools, parish officials have worked out a plan with the school board to incorporate their investigative staff to get students back in the classroom.
New Ten’s Zane Hogue with St. Landry Parish President Jessie Bellard about the truancy issue.
“Whenever school first started, Mrs. Scott and I met at Opelousas Junior High and she was telling me about how truancy last year was a lot. I mean it was bad. With law enforcement being short of people, she asked if there was anything we could do to help,” said Bellard.
As a solution, Bellard looked to his team of investigators commissioned to parish government by the sheriff’s office and his security detail commissioned by the police department.
Bellard, Sheriff Bobby Guidroz and members of the school board agreed to allow the investigators to assist the school board when they notice a high amount of truancy.
If the school board’s process of attempting to get the student back to school is unsuccessful, the team of investigators step in and take legal action on the parents or guardians to ensure students attend class.
“It’s the law. So, what happens is, if the parents are not adhering to what the law requires, the investigators will give warnings. If they don’t listen and they don’t want to comply to the warnings and don’t want to comply with the school board’s wishes, then they can be arrested,” said Bellard.
Bellard says the plan does not end with stopping truancy.
While investigators get students back in the classroom, Bellard says there is also a plan to incorporate the newly redesigned Ag Arena to get students more involved in after school activities.
“There are kids that maybe don’t know they want to ride a horse, or take care of a horse, because they live in areas where they may not see outside of that area other than going to school. We want to introduce them to a different style, a different lifestyle to maybe put them in a direction where they never thought they’d be,” said Bellard.
We have a young lady here who wants to bring them different places where they want to learn to cut hair. Maybe they might want to learn something else so when they get out of school, they have something to look forward to and try it out to see what it’s like.
Bellard says the goal of these programs are to keep children off the streets.