Twice a month, Denver students ages 6 to 17 whose unexcused school absences are out of control are called into court, accused of breaking Colorado’s Attendance Law and forced to give officials a chance to help them, says the Denver Post. Judge Howard Bartlett had a question for one girl, 15, who missed 40 percent of the 2009-10 school year with unexcused absences and had been sentenced to wear an ankle monitor so officials could track her whereabouts – the most serious consequence handed out in Denver’s truancy court.
“Do you have any goals in life?” Bartlett asked. “No,” answered the girl. “I’m going to order that you think about that,” the judge said. “You have to have goals or you are a ship blowing around the ocean without a rudder.” Only students with more than 20 unexcused absences are called to court. Truancy courts are a last resort for school districts after all school-level interventions have failed. School districts are focusing more on attendance problems as research has shown a clear correlation between students who drop out and the number of unexcused absences they accumulate. Going to court often is scared-straight solution, said attorney Matt Ratterman, who handles truancy cases for two school district.