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Truants are more likely to end up in prison

April 15th, 2013 at 1:12 pm

LucyAt least 135 of the 182 young men that have recently been locked up in Illinois’s three medium-security youth prisons used to miss school often enough that they were labeled chronic truants.

When they were booked, nearly 60% of them were reading below a third grade level.

At the Illinois Youth Center St. Charles, the largest of the three facilities,63 of the 72 youths had dropped out of school completely by the time they were incarcerated.

These figures remind us that absence from school during childhood is often one of the first warnings of criminal behavior that can be the cause of ruining young lives and burdening society with costs of street violence, welfare and prison.

The records highlight the consequences of a crisis in K-8 grade truancy in Chicago that officials have ignored for a long time, although they have promised to address it in the wake of a Tribune investigation, which found that tens of thousands of city elementary students miss at least of month of school in any given year.

Although the prison data consists of raw numbers, behind them is a rough parade of youths whose cases fill the Cook County Juvenile Court docket.

One 2011 court reported stated that a 15-year-old boy had been accused of selling $10 and $20 bags of heroin and “is not attending any school at this moment.” Court records show that he had disappeared from Chicago’s public schools two years earlier.

Superintendent of the juvenile prison schools Kyle Gaffey said, “When they are not coming to school, they are getting themselves in trouble. We have youth who’ve reported to us that they haven’t been in school since the fourth grade.”

Under Illinois law, students cannot drop out of school before age 17, but hundreds do every year.

From 1999 through 2007, about 3,000 students in grades K-8 were listed as dropouts, but in 2008, 6,525 students were listed when kids were supposed to transfer to another school, but never completed enrollment.

After 2008, Chicago officials stated that a state rule change meant that dropouts in elementary school no longer needed to be reported. The Tribune’s analysis, however, found that thousands of K-8 students were listed as “unable to locate” or “did not arrive” between 2008 and 2011.

If your child has been skipping school, or worse, has already gotten into criminal trouble, contact a family law attorney to fight for your child in court. Shaw Jacobs Goosetree & Associates can help you get your child back on the right track in St. Charles today.

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Written by Staff Writer

April 15th, 2013 at 1:12 pm

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