State and city officials are scheduled today to announce an interagency partnership aimed at combating truancy among juvenile offenders in Baltimore schools. The city school system and the Department of Juvenile Services will share student attendance data, enabling DJS case managers to monitor daily whether youth on probation are in school.
DJS plans to expand from six to 16 the number of city schools where it places case managers who monitor and respond to attendance and behavior problems and other issues involving students under DJS supervision. The department is also putting a full-time employee in the system's attendance and truancy office to oversee communication about specific cases.
The partnership is to be announced at Patterson High School by DJS Services Secretary Donald W. DeVore, city schools chief Andres Alonso and Baltimore District Judge Catherine Curran O'Malley.
"This is an initiative that illustrates what we want to happen with other agencies that have responsibility for our kids: shared information, collocation of resources, targeting of key schools and ownership for all our kids," Alonso said yesterday.
The announcement comes three months after the school system closed the Baltimore Truancy Assessment Center, which linked truant students with social services, and days after the director of the system's attendance and truancy office was removed from the job.
School system officials declined to comment on the director's removal. But Jonathan Brice, executive director of student support, said the truancy center was problematic because it served only students who happened to get picked up on the streets by police officers. "The fact that we had over 7,000 students who missed 20 or more days of school last year is a clear indication of the need to have a different attendance/truancy focus," he said.
O'Malley has volunteered in the truancy court program run by the University of Baltimore School of Law school in six city schools, where students with attendance problems meet weekly with a volunteer judge.