Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Absent resources threaten truancy program

Making truancy intervention a priority has meant reallocating resources and manpower in the Olmsted County Attorney's Office.

As more and more schools clamor for the program, a lack of resources is proving to be a constraint on the program's expansion.

There is little doubt of the eagerness of other Rochester school leaders to get the program in their schools. Rochester Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Brenda Lewis said the district held a leadership meeting two weeks ago attended by school principals and associate principals. The feeling among them was, "when can it be us," Lewis said.

"You could sense the enthusiasm, and people are saying, 'When are you coming to our school?'" she said.

For Olmsted County Senior Assistant County Attorney Debra Groehler, and Karla Schultz-Stavlo, a senior paralegal in the county attorney's office, what often feels like a full-time job has been imposed on their other responsibilities. The two spearhead the county's role with a strict division of labor.


Groehler and another attorney, Tom Gort, represent the county attorney's office during meetings with parents and students. Schultz-Stavlo is the record keeper, the monitor of student attendance and liaison with the schools.

Officials say the goal goes beyond compelling school attendance. Ultimately the hope is to strengthen the relationship between student and school to such a degree that a students wants to attend. That involves building partnerships with other groups and agencies in the area.

Looking at ways to build that positive attraction, The United Way's Community Gang Initiative has supported Girl Scouts and a sports mentorship academy at Willow Creek. Groehler said in her one-on-one meetings with students, it was not uncommon for students to tell her how their growing disengagement with school coincided with a falling away from extracurricular activities.

"When I talked to them at the (one-on-one meeting), they'd say, 'well, I don't go to the Boys and Girls Club anymore. Yeah, I don't really play basketball anymore.' And I'll say, 'why? (They'd say) Well, I don't know.'"

Groehler said the more contacts students have with positive role models at school, the better.

"That's another big thing. That's why it's not just us. It has to be community-wide," Groehler said.

What To Read Next
Get Local