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Truancy initiative requires specialists in all counties

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — A statewide initiative to prevent children from missing school — announced Wednesday by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin — will focus on preventing absences instead of punishing them.

Through West Virginia Senate Bill 393, the initiative requires each county to hire a truancy diversion specialist by July 2016, according to Jim Kirby, attendance director for Harrison County.

The specialist will work with students, administrators, parents and the courts to help eliminate factors that lead to students missing school.

“They’re going to work with those issues and try to resolve the case before it goes to the circuit court level,” Kirby said.

Around 70 percent of all juvenile cases seen by circuit court judges involve truancy, according to Taylor County Prosecutor John Bord, who served on Tomblin’s commission that formed the initiative.

Funding for the new truancy diversion specialists will be the responsibility of the individual county boards of education, said Doddridge County Superintendent Rick Coffman.

He was told the counties could apply for reimbursements from the state that will cover around half of the specialist’s salary, but those state funds could be capped at $30,000 annually.

“Of course, to get the right type of person, you’ll need to spend at least twice that much…

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