Program reminds parents of the importance of early education att - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Program reminds parents of the importance of early education attendance

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

According to Louisiana state law, students in grades K through 8 are required to be in attendance 167 days of the school year. In addition to that, they can't miss more than 10 days each term. If they do, the consequences can be severe, ranging from probation to hundreds of dollars in fines for parents.

It's not the monetary consequences of attendance that has grabbed the attention of the Truancy Assessment and Service Center (TASC). 

"It's very important that children have an education and have an early commitment to education," said  TASC member, Carrie Dean.

As parents drive up to drop their kids off, they are welcomed with a helping hand and information on the state laws that require elementary aged kids to be in school.

"TASC has been around since 2001," said Assistant Director, Bill Sommers. "It's legislatively funded and it's really just a fantastic program and it deals with kindergarten through grades 5."  

Bill Sommers is the Assistant Director with the Office of Juvenile Justice Services for the parish and said that even without the law that mandates being in school, attendance is essential to the learning process.

"We learn everyday ... even at my age and everybody's age if you're not in school and you're not there physically, then it's not a good thing," said Sommers.  

The program targets over 30 schools throughout Calcasieu Parish and while Sommers thinks the area does well in avoiding truancy, he recognizes it as a national issue. 

"Literacy and truancy are a gateway to juvenile delinquency so we think it's very important," said Sommers. "We work in conjunction with the Calcasieu Parish school board to do this because it's very important that our young kids go to school and follow the state laws." 

TASC members said as complex the law may sound or seem, the concept is simple. 

"If they don't have that in early ages, we lose them," Dean said. 

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