Press Release letterhead

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2004
www.ojp.usdoj.gov
Joan LaRocca, 202-307-0703
Office of Justice Programs
David Thomas, 202-401-1576
U.S. Department of Education

DEPARTMENTS OF JUSTICE AND EDUCATION
HOST NATIONAL TRUANCY PREVENTION CONFERENCE

     WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Education are co-sponsoring a first-ever national conference showcasing effective and promising approaches on truancy prevention. The conference, "Partnering to Prevent Truancy: A National Priority" will bring together over 600 educators, teachers, researchers, law enforcement and criminal justice practitioners from across the nation to share strategies and successes.

    The conference will consist of workshops, roundtable discussions, exhibits, and plenary sessions presenting practical strategies for achieving successful outcomes to the truancy problem in schools and communities. Among the topics to be addressed are family involvement, motivating at-risk youth, collaboration building, and program evaluation. Particular emphasis will be placed on programs that target underserved populations, such as youth with disabilities, tribal youth, children in foster care, immigrant youth, and youth reentering the community from the juvenile justice system.

    "Truancy costs students an education and a future," said Deborah J. Daniels, Assistant Attorney General for DOJ's Office of Justice Programs (OJP). "The education system can't do it alone; our collective challenge must be to address truancy prevention in an aggressive manner. We must invest in strategies that enlist schools, families and community leaders and empower them to take charge."

    "Teamwork will prove to be vitally important to preventing truancy, and our joint efforts at the federal level are indicative of the partnerships that need to be made at all levels," said Deborah Price, Deputy Undersecretary of the Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. "No Child Left Behind encourages schools to work closely with law enforcement and the community to keep schools safe by enforcing truancy and related policies. Families need to work with community and religious groups, schools, and local, state and federal officials to keep students engaged in school and attending regularly. I'm confident that if we make a concerted effort to treat this as a national priority we can be effective in combating truancy."

    Truancy is a complex problem, and the conference is designed to address the needs of a wide range of organizations and individuals involved in truancy prevention efforts-including schools, law enforcement agencies, courts, service providers, community and faith-based organizations, and state and local policymakers. Participants will learn about practical approaches to addressing truancy and related issues.

    The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), a component of OJP, together with OJP's Community Capacity Development Office (through its Weed and Seed Initiative) and the Department of Education's Office for Safe and Drug-Free Schools support truancy reduction demonstration program models targeting different populations and different approaches. Each program includes system reform and accountability; continuum of services to address the needs of children and adolescents who are truant; data collection and evaluation; and a community education and awareness program on truancy. These demonstration models will be highlighted in the workshops during the three day conference.

    Costs of truancy are multi-faceted and involve corrective measures taken by schools and courts; academic failure; and juvenile delinquency often leading to adult criminal behavior. Data from the 2000 census show that high school dropouts had only a 52 percent employment rate in 1999, compared to 71 percent for high school graduates, and 83 percent for college graduates. Of those who worked full-time year-round in 1999, high school dropouts earned only 65 percent of the median earnings.

    Conference opening remarks feature Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey and Assistant Attorney General Deborah J. Daniels. Conference hosts are J. Robert Flores, Administrator of OJP's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Department of Education Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools Deputy Undersecretary Deborah Price.

    Conference keynote speakers include: Secretary of Education Rod Paige; Dr. Robert Wm. Blum, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University; Dr. Tony Evans, The Urban Alternative; Susie Kay, Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund; and Wintley A. Phipps, U.S. Dream Academy, Inc.

    Additional information is available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov.

    The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed program and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk. More information can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov.

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