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Continued: Attorneys attacking truancy in Washington County

  • Article by: KEVIN GILES , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 11, 2013 - 5:51 PM

As Harris talked with students in one room, their parents heard from Tony Zdroik, chief of the juvenile division of Orput’s office, in another. Zdroik told parents they’re legally responsible for getting their kids to school. If they don’t, he said, they’ll come under court jurisdiction if a truancy petition is filed.

“A truancy petition is like being charged with a crime, it’s like being sued by somebody,” Zdroik said, appealing to parents to take control of their children’s destinies before it’s too late.

Truancy is costly in other ways, too, and that point was made clear to both students and parents in last week’s meeting.

For habitual truants, it’s easier to drop out of school than to catch up. Seventy percent of all jobs in Minnesota will require more than a high school diploma this year.

High school graduates earn at least $700 a month more than dropouts. Businesses pay more to train uneducated workers. Taxpayers must pay law enforcement and welfare costs.

As the wayward students sit before her, Harris tells them to establish good work habits in their teenage years if they want to head off problems later.

At the end of last week’s intervention, she asked each student to name the high school where they expect to graduate. As they did, she presented each of them with a sample diploma in their school’s colors. One boy discarded his diploma on the table as the students filed from the room.

“These kids can’t make it without a high school diploma,” Orput said.

Kevin Giles • 651-925-5037

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