Truancy Court offers an alternative to legal action against parents struggling to get kids to school

Truancy Court offers an alternative to legal action against parents struggling to get kids to school

Most parents know the struggle of getting your kids up and to school on time. When a child doesn't show up to school consistently, families can face serious consequences, but a program inside Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is working to stop child truancy before it's too late.

Ten or more absences the previous semester will land you an invitation to Truancy Court, a CMS funded program that's been offered since 2001.

WBTV was invited to spend a Tuesday morning inside one of their sessions at Druid Hills Elementary.

The parents and students were split up into two different groups as teachers, social workers and District Court Judge Paige McThenia worked to get to the bottom of why a child isn't showing up for school.

Robin Benson is a single, working mom of four. Her daughter had multiple absences last year.

"Some days are harder than others and I know if I'm having a bad morning it reflects on my kids," she said.

Benson has appreciated the one-on-one guidance she's received through the program and says it's led to a positive change in her daughter.

"As long as you stay involved with the staff and you communicate," she said.

While most of the eight-week program takes place at school, the group is also invited to the Mecklenburg County courthouse to see the judicial system in action first hand.

While Truancy Court helps families avoid legal action being taken against them for not getting their children to school, kids still get time in the courtroom. We watched Judge McThenia help the kids put on a mock trial. The defendant in the case was the infamous villain the big bad wolf.

Benson looked on as her daughter giggled through her cross examination. She's grateful the problem is allowing her to get her daughter's attendance issues in check.

"I hope she stays optimistic shes very open and eager to learn. I hope she doesn't pick up on the wrong traits," she said.

Truancy Court is offered in 15 schools across the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District.

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