CMSD, Muni Court and police team on plan to fight truancy
The Cleveland Metropolitan School District, the Cleveland Municipal Court and the Cleveland Police Department have partnered on a program that addresses truancy without tagging a juvenile with a criminal record.
“Redirecting Our Curfew Kids” (ROCK) is a diversion program for parents or guardians, and ROCK does what had been difficult to do with past efforts: It brings all interested agencies together in a comprehensive response to reduce curfew violations.
“Everyone’s really excited about the program,” said Tracy Hill, Executive Director of Family and Community Engagement who has played a key role in developing ROCK. “We hope that, as a result of this program, parents will become more aware of their role as their child’s first teacher.”
More than 3,300 citations were issued last year to parents or guardians for minors who violated curfew. The citations carry fines and court fees of about $300 for each violation, plus a parent or guardian is required to appear in court, which means he or she might miss work.
Under this diversion program, parents and their child will participate in an education session and perform joint community service. Parents must also complete several involvement activities with their child’s school.
Instead of the $300 costs, parents who complete their ROCK obligations pay $35.
The broad aim of ROCK is to keep a child from becoming a repeat offender. The family and the child will be linked to resources that can improve or educate them on a range of problems like anger management, decision-making, substance abuse and curfew laws.
“The program sends a clear message to the kid: ‘We care about your safety; we’re concerned about your achievement,’” Hill said. “If you’re not in school, you’re not going to meet your goals.”