Yesterday the Manhattan District Attorney joined the Schools Chancellor and NYPD Commissioner to announce a new initiative to help bring down truancy rates in New York City. DA Cyrus Vance stated that the new Engagement Center, a place for frequently truant kids to receive mentoring, is meant to lower the chance of a student’s contact with the criminal justice system. “In order to keep kids out of the courtroom, we need to keep them in the classroom,” he said in making the announcement.
Bringing down truancy rates in New York poses a serious challenge to the public school system and, at times, the police department. In the 2012-2013 school year, 34 percent of high school students missed a month or more of school.
Because the problem has as many causes as the 250,000 students missing from classrooms each year from city classrooms, the center will provide a range of services to turn chronic absenteeism around.
On top of closer monitoring of students’ academic progress and attendance, the center aims to shore up students’ connections to the school community, which will include providing students with one-on-one school-based mentors, a center-based advocate, and training to parents on how to help their kids stay in school.
The center will have from the Department of Education, the District Attorney’s office, and the Police Athletic League, a non-profit youth-oriented activities program. The center will be housed alongside the Police Athletic League in West Harlem.