Reagan County Schools Take on Truancy Problem

By Wyatt Goolsby
NewsWest 9

BIG LAKE - Drugs and Truancy. That's what's causing problems for the Reagan County School District. They're warning parents and teachers not to turn a blind eye to the issue. District administrators and board members said both issues are major concerns at the middle and high schools.

The superintendent and board members said changes could be in store for the student handbook in Big Lake.  They told NewsWest 9 they are discussing what they can do to better handle the drugs and truancy issues. However, they said support from parents is crucial.

"We want people to be concerned about it," Marshall Harrison, the Superintendent of RCISD, explained. "Because once you stop being concerned about situations at the school, the school starts taking a nosedive."

It's not the only school district here in the Basin where you'll find both drug and truancy issues. However, with around 5 percent of students at both the high school and middle school causing problems, officials said they want to fix it.

"When you have a kid out fifteen, twenty days, that's hard on the kid, the teacher and the school as well," Harrison added.

Harrison said it's not a huge number of students, but when the problem is missing class, he said it affects everyone.

"It's an issue because when kids are absent from school, they get behind on their homework, just trying to address the basic learning, and it goes as deep as Pre-K," Harrison said.

Officials said they plan on hiring another administrator to help frequently absent students and their parents. On the issue of drugs, the schools have to stay strict.

"Do I think we have a problem with drugs in Reagan County schools? Yes," Harrison said. "What I mean by that is if I have two kids that test positive, that's a problem with me."
Harrison said the district's policy to test students for drugs has helped, and it has Big Lake residents talking. He said he hopes that talking doesn't stop.

"We are trying to address what we feel like is a problem, but we want every stake holder on board with all the problems," Harrison explained.

Board members plan on discussing the issues again on Monday. The superintendent told NewsWest 9 he has an open door policy for parents. He said if they have ideas, he's all ears.