The Mancos Re-6 school board unanimously approved a new expulsion policy in an attempt to resolve truancy issues.
At a board meeting earlier this month, Mancos Dean of Students Heath Showalter shared a discipline report that showed most student referrals, nearly 20, were issued for disrespect.
The district also issued four referrals for fighting, four for harassment, four for bullying and four for truancy this school year.
Despite the low number of referrals for truancy, Showalter said the district has no way to adequately address students who skip class.
“We have no teeth,” Showalter said. “There’s nothing really we can do.”
Showalter told board members that students who were habitually absent generally came from families that didn’t value education.
“No student has the right to interfere with a teacher giving a lesson or another student from receiving a lesson,” Showalter said.
Before the unanimous vote, Superintendent Brian Hanson advised the board that courts wouldn’t resolve the issue. And board member Monty Guiles cautioned his peers to be mindful that some students face difficult lives at home, and their school absences were sometimes beyond their control.
Jody Kent Lavy, director of The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth in Washington, D.C., agreed, stating that truancy often is systematic of larger problems.
“Truancy is more a family welfare issue than a criminal justice one,” Lavy said.
With the policy changed, Showalter said the district would be required to document the absences before entering expulsion proceedings through the court system.