Lt. Paco Balderrama said his six truancy officers visited more than 2,000 homes of habitually truant students and that the warnings issued to parents decreased truancy by 50 percent.
“It’s a brand new program, but I believe it was pretty successful,” Balderrama said.
He presented his truancy report to the Oklahoma City School Board this week. The program began in the fall 2009 with two officers visiting the homes of students with five or more unexcused absences. Then in the spring 2010 the force received a federal grant and added four more officers and Balderrama to the efforts.
Balderamma said the program has tracked a 53 percent decrease in truancy among students that it has made contact with, but noted the program is limited by size.
Every year more than 6,786 students are identified as habitually truant.
“We contact about 32 percent,” Balderrama said. “Believe me, it’s not from a lack of effort.”
Since then officers have also been given the authority to ticket students for truancy, a step that Balderrama said is a last resort when working with these kids.