Weekly visits will help to curb truancy, those on verge of trouble

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Starting this school year, an officer with the Jim Wells County Juvenile Probation Office will be assigned to work at Alice High School and William Adams Middle School during the week, to fill the needs of probationary students and students considered in crisis because of truancy and related activities.

Superintendent Henry Herrera said he met with Juvenile Probation Director James Schmidt and District Judge Richard Terrell about having the officer on district campuses.

He also met with Joanna Munoz, who will serve in that position for two half days at each campus, Herrera said.

"Munoz won't have a set schedule, so the students won't know when to expect her. She will be checking for truancy as part of her duties," Herrera said.

The probation office also hosts a "Why Try" program, which takes students considered in crisis and works with them to foster team building skills and self confidence.

This summer juvenile probation held several classes in the Women's Building at the Jim Wells County Fairgrounds, which was the only space available to them.

The destination proved challenging, with students having to be taken from the courthouse office to the fairgrounds for the class once a week, using several probation office vehicles.

The district has decided to assist the program, by allowing the probation office to conduct its program on campus after school, in a room provided at WAMS.

"A lot of these kids are not on probation yet. They're in some form of crisis intervention for truancy. It helps if they know we're in the school.

"The kids are aware that if the probation officer will be there, then they need to come to school," Schmidt said.

"This will make it a little easier for the PO to check if they're at school."