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Kent County Truancy Reduction Program helps high school senior earn her diploma

Kent County Truancy Reduction Court Program

“The court provided me the extra motivation to graduate.”

Kent County High School student Kendra Johnson missed 45 days of school during her senior year. As a result, she was one of 51 students, who entered into the Kent County Truancy Reduction Program during the 2017-2018 school year. The program aims at supporting students, like Johnson, so they can complete school requirements.

"The truancy court helped me speed up the process of graduating," Johnson said. "My school helped me enter the home-hospital program, which allowed me to catch up on my school work at a local library and the court provided me the extra motivation to graduate."

Kent County Truancy Reduction Court Program

The Kent County Truancy Reduction Program’s mission is to improve school attendance rates and a student’s attitude about education through a nurturing approach that ultimately will build a relationship between the family, the school, and the court.

“Hopefully, through this program, we are able to uncover problems before they reach a boiling point that may result in a child appearing in juvenile court or dropping out of school,” said Ret. Judge Karen A. Murphy Jensen.

Students who participate in the program appear in Kent County Circuit Court at least once a month through a specialized docket, which Judge Jensen presides over in Kent County. During these appearances, the judge reviews a student’s file, receives status updates, and connects students and their families with local resources.

Kent County Truancy Reduction Court Program

“The Kent County Board of Education has been a key partner with this program,” Judge Jensen said. “We have also partnered with the Department of Juvenile Services in a few cases and other local organizations, which are helping us resolve issues that create barriers to regular school attendance.”

During a special ceremony on July 20, Johnson received her certification of completion for the truancy program as well as her high school diploma within the Kent County Circuit Court.

Since the Kent County Truancy Reduction Program was established in 2014, more than 100 students have participated in the program.

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(August 10, 2018)