Chronic absence correlated to high dropout rates has long been an issue in Nevada’s public schools. A recent report shows recent improvement in Clark County graduation rates. According to the Clark County School District (CCSD), one of the key programs to combat habitual absenteeism is the Truancy Diversion Program (TDP). As the school year winds down, it is a perfect time to recognize Truancy Diversion Program volunteers who commit to a school-year of weekly truancy diversion court sessions to keep kids in school and on track to graduate. The volunteer judges/mentors will be recognized on Friday, May 18 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Social Club Ballroom at Main Street Station 200 N. Main Street. The volunteers will be given an award and the opportunity to share their experiences of helping students attain an education. The TDP volunteers see first-hand how keeping a student in school can be the difference between failure and graduation; and between a path of crime and a path of success.

District Court Judge William Voy currently oversee the TDP that was established by Judge Gerald Hardcastle in 2002, and overseen by Judge Jennifer Elliott in collaboration with the Clark County School District (CCSD) for 10 years. “As a judge who hears juvenile cases, I see firsthand the importance of education and graduation. The Truancy Diversion program has proven to be an effective part of the strategy to keep students in school and on track to graduate. The volunteers are key to this much-needed program, and their work has done much to improve the path of many students,” said Judge Voy. “The Truancy Diversion Program not only benefits those students who are struggling to complete their education, but it benefits our community as a whole.”

In the 2016/2017 school-year, the TDP was in more than 80 CCSD elementary, middle schools and high schools. In the 2017/2018 school year, the TDP program plummeted to 40 participating schools, due to the ending of grant for the program from the Office of Juvenile Justice Department of Prevention Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court (OJJDP). Since the grant expired, funding has been an issue, since each school must use school funds to pay for the program.

Those without a high school diploma face higher prospects of unemployment and the associated negative consequences. This collaborative effort between the CCSD has been structured to prevent and reduce youth crime, re-engage students in learning, and ultimately, reduce potential costs to our welfare and justice systems. It is a non-punitive, incentive-based approach to at-risk school students with truancy problems. “Kids who successfully complete school have a much better chance at success in life than those who drop out,” said Presiding Family Court Judge Bryce Duckworth. “Truancy is often the first step off the path to success. The Truancy Diversion Program addresses the issue and keeps students in school and on track to graduate.”

Judges, attorneys, mental health professionals and law enforcement officers volunteer approximately three hours each week to hold truancy court sessions at schools. They promote and support academic achievement using a team effort and an individual student success plan with students and their parents. They review the students’ attendance, school work, and progress to ensure that students have the resources they need to be successful. The goal of the Eighth Judicial District Court Family Division is to continue to expand until all Clark County schools have a TDP program.

Licensed attorneys, mental health professionals or law enforcement officers who are interested in volunteering as a TDP judge for this Specialty Court program should call 702-455-1755. The Family Court youth programs are a great example of how the Eighth Judicial District Court is using alternative, efficient methods to address crime and ensure justice. District Court continuously works to develop innovative ideas, improve efficiency, address issues and improve access to justice