The Paris Special School District board made changes to the district policies Tuesday that will tighten up truancy issues and accelerate consequences for excessive unexcused absences.

The new policy was approved by the school system’s board of education during its monthly meeting at the PSSD headquarters. The policy will essentially shorten the time it will take for a chronically absent student to have to attend juvenile court.

Joey Brush, supervisor of instruction, explained how the PSSD truancy plan is split into three tiers. The tiers are levels of action that schools will take depending on the number of absences.

In the old policy, students would have up to three unexcused absences before moving into tier one of that plan.

In the new policy, all students are automatically in tier one of the plan. Now, students that reach three days of unexcused absences will activate tier two of the truancy plan, which will result in a letter being sent to that student’s parents to organize a conference with the school.

Tier two also calls for an attendance contract to be signed depending on how the conference goes. The contract will specify the respective school’s attendance expectations and penalties for additional absences.

Tier three of the truancy plan is where juvenile court will become a possibility and activates when the protocols of tier two are unsuccessful.

A chronically absent student is one that misses 10% of days in a school year, which translates to 18 days for PSSD schools.

“Now instead of a student being out twenty days before they go to juvenile court, maybe that number is about twelve days instead,” said Jason Scarbrough, Inman Middle School principal.

The current percentages of chronically absent students in the 2021-22 school year so far — ones who have missed seven of the 70 school days as of Tuesday — is 20% for Rhea Elementary School, 14% for Paris Elementary School and 17% for Inman Middle School. Those numbers account for all days missed, including excused absences.

PSSD principals indicated that they’ve been dealing with an excessive rate of juvenile court dates for chronic absenteeism.

In other meeting business, the PSSD is expecting to make at least $4,500 from two vans that are currently being auctioned for surplus.

A 1999 Chevrolet Astro with 92,444 miles and a 2002 GMC with 126,279 miles currently have bids on them for a combined $4,500 on Bidding on the vans will end on Thursday, according to Norma Gerrell, director of schools.

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