- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - East Baton Rouge Parish authorities have issued misdemeanor summonses to more than 90 parents and guardians of truant children.

Roxson Welch, executive director of the Family and Youth Service Center in Baton Rouge, tells The Advocate (https://bit.ly/QiZP2I ) the mission of the truancy center is to identify truant youths and provide them and their families with services to prevent additional unexcused absences.

The roundup, which officials began planning about a month ago, was aimed at the top 150 to 200 worst offenders in the parish, Welch said.

Law enforcement conducts small roundups throughout the year but saves the worst offenders for the major roundups, she said.

Authorities with the Baton Rouge Police Department and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office served misdemeanor summonses for improper supervision of a minor to the parents and guardians of truant students from the East Baton Rouge Parish school system, Recovery School District and some charter schools.

Officials went after parents and guardians whose children had more than 10 unexcused absences this school year. Several children had as many as 40 unexcused absences in this school year, Welch said.

Parish school officials reach out to the families of students with high absentee rates a handful of times before they collaborate with law enforcement.

“The goal is to not prosecute anyone for any of these offenses, but to find out the reasons for why the kids are not in school and to have the kids get back in school and learn,” District Attorney Hillar Moore III said.

This roundup comes more than three months after authorities issued misdemeanor summonses to 99 parents and guardians. Before that, the last major roundup occurred in 2008 when 82 children were arrested for not being in school during school hours.

Every person who received a summons during the previous roundup has worked with the truancy center to get their children back in school, Welch said.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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