For most schools in our area, this was the last week of classes. Now, lawmakers are focusing on making sure more students come back in the fall. State Senator Sean Wiley announced this morning he's collaborating with the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole to work with truant children who have a parent or parents under state supervision.
"Basically what this does is those who are under supervision of state probation and parole and with adult probation and juvenile probation,” Wiley said at a press conference Friday at his Erie office. “They'll have the opportunity to make sure these kids are waking through the schools.”
The pilot program resembles one instituted in Harrisburg city schools, and will start in Erie public schools this fall. The plan aims to keep kids in school by focusing on the importance of education while reducing crime and improving retention rates.The commonwealth's most recent data from 2012 shows Erie public high schools experienced a 9.4 percent dropout rate. Michael Potteiger, chairman of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, said tackling truancy head on creates a stronger and safer community.
"Truancy leads to dropout, dropout leads to crime, which then you commit more victims, and what we're really trying to do, again, is focus on public safety,” Potteiger said.
Both Wiley and other officials say the best way to get kids in the classroom is to prove to them education is beneficial both in the short-term and the long-term.
"Once these kids have an opportunity to be in the classroom, once they're exposed to their education, their opportunities grow exponentially,” Wiley added.
The initiative is supported by other local agencies, including Erie County Juvenile Probation and the Office of Children and Youth.