Washoe Cracks Down On Truants

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Washoe County children who skip school will have truancy officers to deal with.

Law enforcement agencies again are teeming up with the school district to round up kids who cut class and get them back in school.

On Thursday, students getting off the bus at O'Brien Middle School in Stead were greeted by the Washoe County Sheriff Departments Mobile Command Unit in the parking lot.

The vehicle displayed a banner that read "Truancy Sweep."

"When they actually got off the bus today, they knew that all these agencies are taking truancy seriously," said Mike Martino of the Washoe County Juvenile Services Department."

Officers combed the North Valleys area, looking for students who should be in school. Twelve students were caught.

Officials said the sweeps will continue every week in other areas around the county.

"We can't say where we'll be or when," said Janet Carthen, a Washoe County School District truant officer. "We'll do it at different times and different days each week.

"The kids are smart. If we did it the same time and same day, the kids would know and they'll tell each other."

Officials said truancy is often the first sign of trouble and early intervention is key to turning around troubled youth.

"If we get to the kids who are showing truancy tendencies in the seventh, eighth or ninth grades, then we have a better chance to turn them around," said Kathleen Sandoval, program director of the Children's Cabinet, a non-profit group offering social services.

"Once they get to 10th 11th or 12th grade, then the chance of making a big impact on them is not very good."

Students who are picked up are taken back to school and their parents are contacted. Some are referred to social services agencies.