Harold C. Collins, Program Coordinator
The D.A.’s Mentoring Based Truancy Reduction Program is designed to provide support to students, parents and schools to decrease habitual truancy occurring at middle schools, to reduce student contact with the juvenile justice system and to reduce youth involvement in criminal activity and gangs.
The program seeks to identify students who have been marked as habitually truant (absent five days without excuse) from school. Once identified, both the youth and their parent or custodian will be asked to enter a standard agreement with the D.A.’s Office. In this agreement the youth and the parents agree to be matched with, and cooperate with, a designated, trained Truancy Program mentor. This agreement is enforced by court order in Juvenile Court.
Once assigned a mentor, the student is monitored and evaluated on their school attendance, performance and conduct. The student is also evaluated on their conduct at home, and with any community service or faith-based activities recommended by the mentor. The mentor, a case advocate from the school and an assistant district attorney from Juvenile Court will make a final assessment of the student’s progress.
The program was launched at the beginning of the 2006 school year in three schools. The program has grown and now operates in seven Shelby County Middle schools (Chickasaw, Hamilton, Hickory Ridge, Georgian Hills, Ridgeway, Sherwood and Westside). In January 2013, the program expanded to include six elementary schools (Hickory Ridge, Shannon, Westwood, Corning, Winridge and Ford Road).
As of September 16, 2013, there have been a total of 3,723 students referred to the program since inception. Mentors are volunteers from the community willing to spend a minimum of eight hours per month with a student. Our office trains the mentors and provides assistance in ensuring the mentor/mentee relationship is productive and beneficial.
In a 2010 study conducted by the University of Memphis’ School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Memphis City Schools recorded a clear reduction in truancy rates linked to the D.A.’s Truancy Reduction Program.
Become a Mentor
If you would like to become a mentor please download, print and fill out the application below.