Truancy cases are increasingly referred to courts across the country rather than handled between schools and the parents. This process is expensive, ties up court resources from more pressing public safety priorities, and is ineffective in addressing chronic absenteeism.
In Augusta, Georgia, the above-average truancy rates have garnered significant public attention. Most judges and school officials agree that courts are not the appropriate place to handle truant youth. Instead, parents need to be involved in ensuring that youth are attending school. This approach is both cheaper and more effective than the alternative approach some call for—jailing both parents and students. Secure confinement for a truant youth and his or her parents will usually only involve substantial costs to the county, fill up jail beds that should be prioritized for violent criminals, and do nothing to increase school attendance.