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Truancy Court Program E-Newsletter

 

University of Baltimore School of Law Center for Families, Children and the Courts  

Edition #4 

October 2011 

In This Issue
Get Involved in TCP
MD Attendance Law
Upcoming Programs
Spotlight on Mentoring
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Get Involved in TCP

 You can help TCP and truant students across Maryland! Here are just a few ways that you can help make a difference:  

 

  Volunteer as a tutor or mentor

 

Donate incentives and/or other resources   


Participate in school improvement projects and/or TCP celebrations 

 

 

Please contact Andrea Bento or Gloria Danziger for more information.  

Funding


 

CFCC is excited to announce and thank our newest funder, the Znvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund. We also would like to thank the Charles Crane Family Foundation and Maryland's Administrative Office of the Courts for their continuing support.

TCP Kids & Cameras
Featured Photo
Kids and Cameras Fall 2011 - Tyquan Planter

Photo by Tyquan Planter; Tench Tilghman Middle School

TCP Kids & Theater Program

Spring 2011

 

Kids & Theater Spring 2011
(Kids & Theater students performing in their short play; Photo by A. Green)

 Working with a published playwright, a theater teaching artist, and a Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) Student Fellow, students from the Hampden Elementary/Middle School "Kids and Theater" Program, sponsored by CFCC, wrote and performed a short play entitled "The Basketball Game."  Over the course of ten hour-long weekly meetings, students created the storyline and characters and improvised the scenes, culminating in a final performance and reception for family, friends, teachers, and school administrators on May 24th. 
First Lady's Reception and an Analysis of 2011 TCP Session

On Monday, June 6th, over two hundred Baltimore City TCP graduates, parents, volunteers, and staff members attended the  First Lady of Maryland's Truancy Court Program Reception at the Governor's Mansion in Annapolis.  TCP graduates and their families enjoyed dinner at the mansion with First Lady Catherine O'Malley, followed by a certificate ceremony in the Maryland Senate Building.

First Lady's Reception 2011
 (Parents, students, and participants alike joined to celebrate their TCP successes; Photo by A. Green)

A substantial majority (72 percent) of the three hundred students from four counties who participated in the TCP this year graduated from the program, achieving a 50-75 percent reduction in unexcused absences and tardies and demonstrating improved academics and behavior while enrolled in the program.  They also continued this success after program graduation. Fall semester participants who were tracked over ten weeks following program completion averaged 45 percent fewer unexcused absences and tardies after their participation than they had prior to their TCP involvement.  Congratulations to the students and the team members who helped them get there!

Click here to see more pictures from the 2011 First Lady's Reception.

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Greetings!

Welcome to the Truancy Court Program (TCP)'s Fall E-Newsletter!  As we look forward to a new year of success and achievement, this issue provides information on Maryland's attendance laws, spotlights the TCP's Mentoring Program, gives updates on the TCP's plans for the 2011-2012 school year, and celebrates TCP student achievement.

Just the Facts: Maryland Attendance Law


School Bus

Many parents, relatives, teachers, and school staff are not clear about Maryland's law  regarding attendance and truancy.  Under Maryland statutory and regulatory law:

  • All children between ages 5 and 16 must attend school regularly (COMAR 13A.08.02.01).
  • A student is considered an habitual truant if he or she is enrolled in a school for 91 or more days and unlawfully absent for twenty percent or more of the days enrolled (equivalent to about 20-25 days per semester). (See COMAR 13A.08.01.04(C))
  • Truancy is ANY absence, tardy, or missed school time without a lawful excuse. (COMAR 13A.08.01.04(B))
  • Parents/guardians who fail to send their children to school regularly are guilty of a misdemeanor.  (Md. Education Code Ann. 7-301(e)(2))
  • Any individual who induces truant behavior or harbors any child who is absent unlawfully from school while school is in session is guilty of a misdemeanor.  (Md. Education Code Ann. 7-301(e)(2))
In addition to state law:
  • Each county is responsible for determining standards and procedures for absences in line with the state's definitions.
  • Under Baltimore's daytime curfew law, children under 16 can be taken into custody and transported to school or to their parent/guardian if they are found out of school from 9:00am-2:30pm (Baltimore City Code, Article 19 34-4).  Similar curfew laws are under consideration in Montgomery County. 

For more information on what constitutes a lawful excuse under Maryland attendance law, click here.

Upcoming TCP 2011-2012 Programs 


CFCC  recently has held a workshop for over 35 Baltimore City Public Schools interested in implementing the Truancy Court Program.  Our current funding allows CFCC to operate the TCP in six schools in Baltimore City, which are selected through a highly competitive application process.  The 2011-2012 TCP schools are:  New Era Academy, Collington Square Elementary/Middle School, Walter P. Carter Elementary/Middle SchV-Ville Judge Pic - Spring 2011ool, Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School, Hampden Elementary/Middle School, and Violetville Elementary/Middle School.  CFCC maintains an active waitlist of schools eligible to receive the TCP should funding become available.  In addition, CFCC can implement the TCP in any school on a fee-for-service basis.

 

The TCP also will operate in other Maryland counties with funding from the US Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).   At the same time, schools in Anne Arundel County, where CFCC piloted the program in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 as a result of the OJJDP funding, also will continue to operate the program in 2011-2012.   

 

(Photo: Graduates at Violetville Elementary/Middle School With Judge Young; Photo by A. Bento)  

Spotlight on the TCP Mentoring Program


"We can't push a rope; we can only pull it,"

emphasizes Anthony "Bubba" Green, Coordinator of CFCC's Truancy Court Program (TCP) Mentoring Program, as he explains how personal change occurs in the TCP.  The Mentoring Program is a critical component of the TCP that incorporates group-based character-building sessions, individual mentoring, and weekly communication with parents, relatives, and other significant adults in the child's life.  This holistic approach to mentoring is the foundation for the program's long-term success with students, providing both the building blocks and the follow-up necessary to ensure lasting change.

 

Bubba with Spring 2011 Grads
(A. Green with a TCP graduate and school staff member at Patterson High School; Photo by A. Bento) 


Mr. Green became involved in the TCP soon after the accidental death of his daughter, Deanna Green, who was electrocuted in 2005 when she touched a fence connected to underground electrical wires in Baltimore's Druid Hill Park.  While the sudden and tragic loss left a huge void in his life, Mr. Green sees his involvement with the TCP as a "blessing, because it provides a chance to work with young people and be like a father to many of them who yearn for a parent's guidance."  This year, Mr. Green serves as the TCP Mentor Coordinator and the TCP Mentor in five Baltimore City Public Schools.


TCP Mentors conduct the character-building session using a special attendance-focused curriculum developed by Mr. Green.  The curriculum consists of ten topics:
  • Pouring Into Your Life (building trust and an openness for mentoring) 
  • Setting Goals 
  • Creative Listening 
  • Stretching Your Comfort Zone (recognizing repetitive yet unproductive decision-making processes) 
  • Choosing Your Friends Wisely 
  • Practicing Positive Self-Talk
  • Achieving High Self-Esteem
  • Having a Strong Value System
  • Taking Action/Being a Leader
  • A Balanced Approach to Life

TCP Mentors typically spend one session on each topic, although they tailor the emphasis to the specific needs and interests of the students.  The group session generally includes all TCP participants ages ten and above and takes place at the same time as the TCP meeting with the judge and school team.  The Mentor elicits participation from all students in the more structured session but addresses individual and private issues in one-on-one conversations with the students, often several times during a semester.  


Mr. Green describes TCP Mentors as "attitude-adjusters." Although TCP Mentors always are honest about "the good, the bad, and the ugly" with the students, his ultimate goal is for them to focus on and nurture the positive development of the students. The TCP Mentors make progress by "breaking down walls and building trust with the students," according to Mr. Green, who adds that "if we can just get them to open up and change their attitude, we can change their lives." During his character-building sessions, he draws on popular culture, his own life experiences, skits, music, and more to reach the students. "If we keep trying different things, we will get through to them sooner or later," Mr. Green explains, "and when the students grab onto the 'rope,' the TCP team members, parents, and teachers just need to pull."


TCP Mentors also call parents or caregivers once a week to update them on a student's progress. TCP Mentors are experts at building trust and rapport during these regular calls and often glean important information about TCP students from these conversations.  At the same time, they are able to brainstorm with parents and caregivers about how best to support the TCP students and pull them toward success.  This provides the final piece of the puzzle in a wraparound effort to create lasting change in a child's life.


To learn more about the TCP or its mentoring component, visit CFCC's website; contact Anthony Green, TCP Mentor Coordinator; or contact Gloria Danziger, CFCC Senior Fellow.
Sincerely,

  

Barbara Babb, Associate Professor of Law and Director, Center for Families, Children and the Courts

 

TCP Staff: Gloria Danziger, CFCC Senior Fellow; Andrea Bento, TCP Manager and School Liaison; Anthony "Bubba" Green, TCP Mentor Coordinator; Jessica Stowell, TCP Coordinator; Edana Gerald, TCP Coordinator; Renee McElroy, TCP Mentor; Sharon Curley, CFCC Program Administrative Specialist; Elizabeth Mullen, CFCC Administrative Assistant

 

Editing Staff: Barbara Babb, Editor/Writer; Gloria Danziger, Editor/Writer; Andrea Bento, Editor/Writer; Elizabeth Mullen, Editor

 

University of Baltimore School of Law Center for Families, Children & the Courts