Attorneys, mental health professionals, law enforcement officers, retired teachers and other qualified applicants are invited to join the movement to improve graduation rates in Clark County. The Truancy Diversion Program (TDP) is looking to expand its successful program and needs volunteers to serve as school judges to meet with kids, guide them toward available resources and motivate the students.
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 invite attorneys, mental health professionals, law enforcement officers and retired teachers to be part of the solution to the significant problem of truancy in our schools,” said Judge Elliott. “The volunteer judges are guiding struggling students toward solutions and motivating them to graduate so they have future opportunities for college or a career.”
Clark County reported over 240,000 truant children for school-year 2014-2015.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 volunteer approximately two hours each week and hold truancy court sessions at schools where they meet 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 over 80 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 336 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.
“I encourage those in the legal profession who are looking to do something meaningful in the community to consider being a truancy diversion judge,” said Presiding Family Court Judge Charles Hoskin. “Those who have volunteered report being very gratified at the positive influence they have had on struggling youth.”
If you are a licensed attorney, mental health professional, law enforcement officer, retired teacher or other qualified applicant and are interested in volunteering as a TDP judge for this Specialty Court program, please contact DeNeese Parker at 702-321-2410 or Deneesep@gmail.com and/or Kimberly Alexander at 702-455-1755 or Alexanderk@clarkcountycourts.us.