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TRUMBULL COUNTY Juvenile court officials conduct first sweep for truant pupils



Published: Fri, November 16, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Court officials said similar sweeps will take place about every three months.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- The first sweep of truancy offenders by Trumbull County Juvenile Court officials and truancy officers from Warren City Schools and the Trumbull County Educational Service Center netted about 50 area pupils.

Tim Allen of the service center said the pupils appeared in juvenile court after the Thursday morning sweep to explain their absences.

"We wanted to do this so that the students know we are paying attention and, maybe if they know we are doing this, they will make sure to go to school," Allen said.

He noted that Monte Horton, juvenile magistrate, came up with the idea earlier this year.

Court officials said similar sweeps will take place about every three months during the school year.

Status of cases: About 10 out of the 50 had their cases dismissed because they were able to provide medical reasons for not being in school, court officials said.

The remainder appeared before the court magistrate or were sent to the court's diversion program.

Pupils appearing before the magistrate were advised of the truancy charge and given a date to return to court.

If convicted of chronic truancy, which is 10 or more unexcused absences in a three-month period, a pupil can face up to 90 days in the juvenile lockup, officials said.

First-time offenders: Diane Pusztai, head of the court's diversion program, said she saw numerous first-time offenders in her office Thursday.

She said the pupils who had not been in trouble before were sent to her program. Pupils sent to her program will not have to return to court if they have no future attendance problems.

"All but one of the students I talked to were absent from school because of medical problems," Pusztai said. "The students either didn't have medical excuses or didn't know who to contact at the school to let them know what was going on."

Pusztai said a male pupil told her he hasn't gone to school in a long time and wasn't planning to return.

"School is important and we want students to stay in school," Pusztai said.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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