The new school year is in full-swing and it is important that students get the year off to a good start so they can graduate to the next level. The Truancy Diversion Project (TDP) aimed at improving student school attendance and success in classes, is gearing up to provide support with a kickoff event for volunteer judges on Monday, Sept. 28 at 11:30 a.m. in Zenoff Hall behind the Family Court, 601 N. Pecos Road. The event is part pep-rally, part final preparation as the volunteer judges head out to 70 schools across the valley.

The TDP was established by Judge Gerald Hardcastle in 2002. Since 2007, the program has been overseen by District Court Judge Jennifer Elliott in collaboration with the Clark County School District CCSD.

“I am excited to begin another school year of being part of the solution to the significant problem of truancy in our schools,” said Judge Elliott. “The volunteer judges are really making a big difference to help struggling students with issues that are getting in the way of their education and ultimately their success. Our goal is to get these students to graduate so they have future opportunities for college or a career,” said Judge Elliott.

Clark County reported nearly 120,000 truant children for school-year 2013-2014.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. A team (judge, family advocate, school personnel) works with the students and their families.

Judges, attorneys and other qualified applicants volunteering approximately three hours each week to and hold truancy court sessions at schools where they meeting individually 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 TDP judges promote and support academic achievement using a team effort and an individual student success plan. Since 2007, the TDP has expanded from six to 70 schools including elementary, middle schools and high schools. The goal of the Eighth Judicial District Court Family Division is to continue to expand until all 358 Clark County schools have a TDP program. In 2014, the TDP was one of four programs in the nation to receive a $600,000 grant from the Department of Justice designed to keep kids in school and out of court.

“It’s impressive to see the growth in the Truancy Diversion Program and to know that more students are being helped reach the goal of graduation.” said Presiding Family Court Judge Charles Hoskin. “Providing guidance and resources for young people to be successful in school helps them to establish a foundation for successful future.”

If you are a licensed attorney, mental health professional or law enforcement officer and are interested in volunteering as a TDP judge for this Specialty Court program please contact DeDe Parker at: 702-321-2410.