DeKalb official says hooky, burglaries linked

Police crack down on truancy, thefts decrease

After the DeKalb County Police Department recently started cracking down on students playing hooky, something interesting happened.

Burglaries went on the decline.

Officers in DeKalb's south precinct issued 82 citations in March for truancy or related activities to middle school and elementary school students. During that same period, burglaries decreased 35 percent compared to the previous month. In the county's east precinct in March, officers issued 56 truancy citations, and burglaries decreased 25 percent during that time.

DeKalb Solicitor General Shawn Ellen LaGrua says she believes the police department's crackdown on truancy and the county's decrease in burglaries are linked. And she says the new initiative is just one part of DeKalb's plan to combat truancy.

LaGrua's office now requires that if a child misses more than 10 days of school, his or her parents have to sign a contract with the county promising to make sure the child shows up for class.

"We're actually going to be holding parents accountable for their children not being in school," LaGrua says.

If parents break the contract, they can be arrested and charged with educational neglect, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $100 and 30 days in jail. LaGrua says that even if parents refuse to sign the contract, they can be issued a citation for educational neglect.

The first group of parents charged with educational neglect will go before Judge R. Joy Walker on May 12.

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