Board hires deputy as truancy officer

Published 12:40 pm Tuesday, December 25, 2018

LaFAYETTE — A problem that every school system faces is students being late or completely absent from classes. The schools in Chambers County are no different, and the board of education has hired Chambers County Sheriff’s Deputy Tseyonka Davidson to help combat excessive truancy.

As the new “Truancy Officer,” Davidson now has a desk at the school district’s central office and access to attendance data for the entire county. He will spend his days taking note of students who have missed several days and visiting their homes to report his findings to their parents.

“I have access to pull all of the attendance from the Chambers County School system and, for the ones that have the most absences, I go out and let the parents know,” Davidson said.

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According to Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge, Davidson’s new position is one that teachers and administrators around the county have wanted for quite some time.

“Over the years, we are starting to see a growing number of students who are repeatedly tardy to school or who accumulate more than 10 absences in a semester,” she said. “That is one of the things we are graded on in our state report card — chronic absenteeism. This is something that principals have been asking for for several years.”

Hodge wrote grants for extra state funding to help pay for the position after the issue could no longer be addressed by teachers and administrators.

“We have seen [excessive truancy] grow each year,” she said. “We try to keep our overhead costs down as much as possible and have just been handling this issue as we could, but we had to prioritize, and most of the time the day-to-day operations would take precedent. This is going to help us be able to combat this need that we have identified.”

Davidson was hired, according to himself and Hodge, because of his life-long familiarity with the Greater Valley Area.

“I was an investigator for three years, and I’m from West Point and know the whole Valley area, (and) know a lot of people,” Davidson said. “When the job came up, they needed somebody to fill the position, and reached out to me.”

He has been making house visits and leaving information with parents since just before Thanksgiving. Davidson said that he has already noticed a difference in usually-absent students and their parents.

“I have gotten a lot of parents attention,” he said. “Even when I leave a door hanger, they will call me back and let me know what happened and give excuses. It opens the minds of the parents.”

Davidson said that he is glad to fill the position as a uniformed officer so that teachers can focus on the classroom. His goal for the job is to help students stay on track to getting a good education.

“I hope to help kids out,” he said. “If we can keep them in school and off the streets that will sure enough make the streets safer. Hopefully they can get an education, learn and stay in school so that they can get the job they want.”