School board hires FRC to aid in new truancy policy

LISBON — Lisbon’s school board has hired the Family Recovery Center to help the district comply with a new state law that requires intervention plans be developed in place of punishment for students who are frequently absent for no good reason.

The board agreed at this week’s meeting to pay the FRC $4,320 annually to assist the district in complying with the new truancy law passed last December by the state legislature. Truant students can no longer be suspended for skipping school or cited into court if their unexplained absences begin to pile up.

Instead, the district must develop an individual intervention plan to address the reasons why the student is absent and help them in achieving the plan’s goals, and that is where the FRC comes in. The FRC will help with the intervention plan and file timely reports with the Ohio Department of Education.

Students are designated “habitual truants” when they miss five consecutive days or more, seven days within a month or 12 days in a year. The bill also prohibits school districts from suspending students for skipping school, which is part of some district’s “zero tolerance” policy.

Schools with a habitual truancy rate of 5 percent or less are exempt from having to create intervention plans.

The FRC’s Brenda Foor told the board there are often underlying problems at home causing the student to skip school, and the intervention plan will seek to address those problems.

Superintendent Joseph Siefke is concerned about meeting the new state mandates and reporting requirements because of the district’s many other duties. “We could miss a deadline and get in trouble, which is why it made sense to contract” with the FRC, he said.

McKinley Elementary School Principal Dan Kemats said habitual truancy is an infrequent problem at his level. “They come in waves, and they come for different reasons,” he said.

School Board President Gene Gallo said he has some experience with the truancy issue when he worked in the juvenile justice field. “What I learned is it’s a habit that is learned early on, and it’s the same families,” he said.

Junior-Senior High School Principal Keith Edenfield reported they are trying something new this year in the hopes of getting more students interested in band: Requiring all 75 sixth-graders to spend the first week of school in band class.

“I think this’ll really help garner interest among sixth-graders” and hopefully many will choose to remain in band as they move on, he said. “It’s a good recruitment tool.”

In other action, the board:

–Renewed the contract with George Summers of Excel Physical Therapy for athletic trainer services for $1,500, the same as last year. In addition, Summers will make himself available on Saturdays for injured athletes participating in sports other than football.

–Renewed the contract for ambulance services at football games with North Star Critical Care, which charges nothing. “They donate all of their time, and we’re very grateful,” said athletic director Kyle Bing.

–Awarded supplemental coaching contracts to Kendadee Pezzano, seventh-grade volleyball; Todd Brammer and Bill Meek, assistant varsity football; and Missy Andric, varsity assistant cheerleading. They also approved Danny Donohue and Dave Crismon as volunteer football coaches at the junior high.

–Accepted the resignation of cafeteria worker Dana Blackburn and hired Amanda Korda and Nancy Groff as part-time cafeteria workers.