DA taking action against truancy, asking for mentors - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

DA taking action against truancy, asking for mentors

72-year-old Ed Cooley and eight grader Rodney Jones may look like an unlikely pair, but together they participate in the DA's truancy mentoring program. 72-year-old Ed Cooley and eight grader Rodney Jones may look like an unlikely pair, but together they participate in the DA's truancy mentoring program.

(WMC-TV) - Twenty-five percent of juvenile crimes happen during school hours. With 74 percent of jail populations reporting truancy, the Shelby County District Attorney is taking action.

72-year-old Ed Cooley and eighth grader Rodney Jones may look like an unlikely pair, but together they participate in the DA's truancy mentoring program.

"I really wasn't feeling it, I was like 'OK, mentor program, yeah I'm just gonna sit around and just do nothing,' " said Jones. "I really stopped missing a lot of days. I started a little to stop hanging around the wrong people. I got back into my school work a lot."

Jones qualified for the program after five unexcused absences at Chickasaw Middle School. The anti-truancy program, created in 2006 by then-DA Bill Gibbons, holds parents accountable for students absences.

After five, the parents are called to court and could face a fine of $50 dollars per day, plus 10 days in jail per day.

"It starts at home. We all know from the department of corrections on down to the DA's office in Shelby County that often times there are just plain old survival issues going on in the home," sad DA Amy Weirich.

Mentors are key to the success. Already this year the program matched 25 students to mentors, but they need 60 more to help the remainder of students.

As for the commitment, the DA says mentors commit eight hours a month to encourage school attendance.

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