Fighting truancy through Operation Round Up

JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Jackson County School District officials are working to keep students in school through a program called Operation Round Up.

"There's a direct correlation in success and being present in school, so we try to get them there," Jackson County Student Services Director Shirl Williams said. "Parents want them in school and we want them in school. We just think it's a good deal all the way around."

Williams encourages community members to call the school district if they notice a student who is not in school during normal school hours. A deputy will then go check up on the child.

"I just knock and make initial contact, try to get in contact with their parents to find out if there's any way we can assist in helping the child get to school or find out the reason why the child hasn't been in school," Jackson Alternative School Resource Officer Phillipe Kirksey said.

According to the Jackson County Code of Student Conduct, if a student has five or more unexcused absences in a nine week grading period, he or she is considered truant.

Williams said a majority of the truancy cases in Jackson County are actually in the elementary and middle schools. She said it's usually the parents who aren't making their children go to school.

Many times, the school resource officer from the student's school is the one who stops by their home, which can help ease fears.

"They see me everyday here at the school," Kirksey said. "If I pull up there, they'll be like, 'Oh that's Officer Kirksey.' They'll come out. They won't hide or anything like that. They'll come out."

Operation Round Up has been in place for a few years now. Officials said each filled seat is a success.

"We just encourage students, parents first of all, to please get the students there," Williams said. "If there's a problem that we can help with, then we're more than willing to do that. Please don't just keep them home. We want them to be educated. Send them to us. We'll take very good care of them."

Jackson County School District officials want to make sure the public knows Operation Round Up does not apply to homeschool students.