Professionals looking for something fulfilling in their life are invited to spend a few hours a week motivating struggling students. The Truancy Diversion Project (TDP) aimed at improving student school attendance and success in classes is calling on attorneys, law enforcement and social service professionals to be volunteer judges at area schools. Volunteers are asked to visit their chosen school once a week to meet with and motivate students to achieve success. Those who are interested in volunteering as a Truancy Diversion Judge, can contact DeDe Parker at702-455-1755.
On Sept. 2 TDP held all-day “trauma-informed” kickoff training for volunteer judges at Family Court with approximately 50 participants. The purpose of the TDP is to utilize a specialty court model to assist the Clark County School District (CCSD) to reduce absenteeism, re-engage students in learning and to cut the dropout rate.
Clark County School District reported nearly 244,000 truant children for school-year 2015-2016. Teenage pregnancy, truancy, and high school dropout rates in Nevada are alarming. Individuals lacking a high school diploma face higher prospects of unemployment and the negative consequences associated with it. The TDP is a collaborative effort between the Family Court and CCSD designed to prevent and reduce youth crime, to re-engage our youth in learning, and ultimately, reduce potential costs to our welfare and justice systems.
The Truancy Diversion Program (TDP) is a partnership between Family Court and CCSD. TDP 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. Since 2007, the program has been overseen by Eighth Judicial District Family Court Judge Jennifer Elliott in collaboration with the Clark County School District.
“The research on truancy has shown attendance and behavior problems at school are risk factors for drug/alcohol use and for involvement in juvenile justice system,” said Judge Jennifer Elliott. “Truancy Diversion volunteers effectively work directly with the students to address their challenges and motivate them to go to school, graduate and move on to a productive future. The Truancy Diversion Program doesn’t just benefit these students, but it benefits our community as a whole. Higher graduation rates lead to a stronger and more employable community,” said Judge Elliott. “Volunteering to serve as a judge with the TDP is worthwhile work. Our young students gain so much from the guidance provided by the volunteers in this program.”
The volunteer TDP judges are licensed attorneys, mental health professionals, law enforcement personnel, another qualified professionals who commit to a school year of weekly court sessions that promote and support academic achievement using a team effort and an individual student success plan. Since 2007, the TDP has expanded from six to 85 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 357 Clark County schools have a TDP specialty court.
“The Truancy Diversion program helps young people achieve success in education. That success sets the stage for the rest of their lives.” said Presiding Family Court Judge Charles Hoskin. “I urge attorneys in our community to be a part of this program to help young people in our community achieve.”