EAST LIVERPOOL For the first time in many years, the city school district will again have its own truant officer with action taken Monday night by the board of education.
By a unanimous vote, the board approved the appointment of Joe Rawson of Stratton as truancy officer/court liaison for a one-year contract at an annual salary of $25,000 and benefits.
Rawson brings to the position a wealth of experience in both juvenile and court proceedings, having started his career in 1995 at the county Counseling Center.
He has since worked as the diversion officer for county Juvenile Court, where he served on the court management team and oversaw the truancy program.
Rawson also served as work force coordinator for the Mahoning Columbiana Training Association and most recently was a child abuse investigator in West Virginia.
"I'm looking forward to working for the city school district and getting back into the county and this community and working with the kids," Rawson said after the meeting.
Superintendent James Herring said after the meeting that the district has not had a truancy officer for some time but that truancy is one of the big issues affecting the district's academic scores.
"We can't get the kids to school," he admitted, saying that Rawson will "do what it takes" to change that, even if it means going to students' homes when they are absent to find out where they are.
Herring presented the board with a slide show regarding the recently released state report card, on which the district earned one A; two Bs; three Cs; one D; and two Fs.
Herring pointed out that, while the district received a C in performance index for scoring 88.9 out of a possible 120, it has demonstrated a steady increase over the past five years. In 2009, the district received 84.7 out of 120, for example.
And, although the district received an F in indicators, which measure how many students passed the state tests at a proficient level or higher, Herring said that was also an improvement over the last four years. Six of 26 indicators were met last year compared to eight of 24 in 2012-2013.
Overall, the district has been showing steady gains, according to Herring, who pointed out that Progress Overall received an A rating.
The next steps will be implementing a focused plan and subgroup achievement.
"We have to work harder, the kids have to work harder, the parents have to work harder," Herring challenged .
Board member Richard Wolf suggested that, until demographics are factored into the equation, the report card will reflect badly on the school district due to it having twice the state average of special education students and a lack of parental involvement.