Dear Standard Democrat Readers and Concerned Citizens of Sikeston,
I am writing today in response to the letter that was placed in Speak0ut on May 2 by the grandmother who is concerned that her granddaughter is being mistreated by the truancy and juvenile court systems here in Sikeston. I feel I must strongly disagree with the things that this lady has said. I respect her right to stand up for her granddaughter, but several things that she has said are untrue and the record needs to reflect the truth so the public may make an informed and accurate decision about this matter. As an educator in the Sikeston Public School system, I am aware of how our juvenile and truancy courts are set up. Their primary goal is to help the child, not to cause harm. The truancy court was set up a few years back to help ensure that children who were not attending school would begin doing so. Children who are a part of the truancy court are required to attend a court session every Wednesday morning where their attendance and grades are reviewed by a judge. The judge is allowed to make rulings concerning these matters. We have noticed a sharp improvement in the attendance of students who are a part of truancy court. We are all aware that children who attend school perform better on in life and have a better opportunity to earn higher wages and advance more in professional fields.
The juvenile court system is set up to handle criminal matters that children are involved in. The system recognizes the fact that children do sometimes make mistakes and it attempts to make sure that they realize the consequences of their actions and to help ensure that they do not repeat these actions.
Furthermore, when a student gives birth, they are placed on what is called "homebound" leave from the school. Homebound students are provided a teacher who will meet with them at least once a week about their homework. They are sent the school work and are expected to complete it while they are recuperating from their pregnancy. The student handbook has policies that we as educators are required to follow in response to a student's absences. I can assure the grandmother that we as educators are not setting out to be "mean." We are following the guidelines that have been set down and passed by our board of education. The teachers in this particular case are also required to follow the mandates that have been set down by the judge who is overseeing this young woman's case. Typically the judge will require them to complete the missed school work and a case worker will check in with the teachers to see how the student is progressing on the work and their overall behavior and attitude.
The grandmother who wrote to Speak Out asked for some advice and help. I feel that it is important that she tell her granddaughter to not drop out of school. If her granddaughter drops out of school, she will have difficulty in getting a good paying job and supporting her baby. I also feel that she needs to understand that no one is out to be "mean" to her granddaughter. Many different public servants are trying to help her. She should be grateful that all of these people are concerned enough about her granddaughter and great-grandchild to get involved in the first place.
Thank you for your attention.