The University of Texas at Arlington’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is partnering with the Arlington Independent
School District to try to better understand and reduce the district’s teenage
Jaya Davis, UT Arlington assistant professor of
criminology and criminal justice, and 10 of her students are spending two to four
hours a week with a school district attendance officer and assisting in home
visits with truant students and their families, court preparation and data
“Truancy can have a significant impact on our community and the
students and families most affected,” said Alex del Carmen, professor and chair
of the UT Arlington Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. “We’re
committed to serving the needs of the community while providing for exciting
service-learning opportunities for our students.”
Under state law, a student is considered truant after
missing more than three days of school within a four-week period or 10 or more
days during a six-month period of the same school year. Truancy can lead to
suspension, expulsion, dropping out of school, delinquency, poor self-esteem
and even legal consequences.
Sylvia Nichols, AISD grant coordinator, contacted UT
Arlington’s Center for Community Service Learning last fall as district
administrators contemplated ways to encourage better attendance rates. Center
director Shirley Theriot recommended the project to Davis, former service-learning faculty fellow at UT Arlington.
Davis’s students will submit weekly reports about their
experiences and discuss their observations with classmates. A final paper will
help prepare them for employment in the criminal justice and juvenile justice
fields, she said.
Davis said she hopes the partnership with the district
will evolve into an internship with district attendance officers, with AISD using
the service-learning component as a preventative measure in junior high
Michael Hill, AISD assistant superintendent of
administration, considers the UT Arlington project a model platform.
AISD and our attendance officers are looking forward to working with UT
Arlington juvenile justice students as we partner to ensure that AISD students
attend class in order to be successful in their journey toward college and
career,” Hill said.
University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive
research institution of more than 33,800 students and more than 2,200 faculty
members in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.
Arlington School District
The Arlington Independent School District serves more than
65,000 students and is the ninth largest district in Texas. The district
includes most of the city of Arlington, Dalworthington Gardens, Pantego and parts
of Grand Prairie. It is the largest employer
in Arlington and the third largest in Tarrant County with more than 8,000
administrators, teachers and support staff. Visit www.aisd.net for more information.