by Anayeli Ruiz
Skipping school became a big problem in Big Spring. Officials got fed up with the problem and created a new program to keep the students in class.
Officials have tried almost everything to keep students in class. They issued two hounded dollar fines and even warrants to parents. Finally last October, Howard County implemented a program that seems to be working.
"We have tried just about everything, we are tired, there is just a certain percentage just not going to school," Kathryn Wiseman, Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1 in Big Spring, said.
That is why for about a year school officials, law enforcement, and anyone who wanted to contribute would meet once a month to try to come up with a solution. The answer is a program from Lubbock called Texas Dispute and Resolution
"I think this is a great program. I can't step in and say ‘now, what's the problem? Let's work on this,' but Alternative Dispute Resolution people can step in and say ‘what is the problem?'" Wiseman said.
The program finds a mediator for the students and tries to pinpoint the problem and a solution.
"We ask them to sign an agreement and monitor that throughout the rest of the school year," Texas Dispute Resolution System Coordinator, Debbie Jensen said.
If they complete the program successfully, the charges and the fines will be dropped.
"These kids have plans, they want to go to the military and get a job after high school and want to go to college, when they realize truancy can affect your future that's when they realize they need to take action," Jensen said.
So far, they have had 89 students referred to the program and they think it will be very success.
"I think a big number of kids will be completing the agreements," Jensen said.
The program seems to be successful, but they won't know the result until the end of the school year.
In the meantime, two more mediators will begin training for next year.