The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

January 5, 2013

Truancy Board members needed


A new program aimed at addressing truancy at Oak Hill High School outside of the judicial system is looking for community members to serve on a Truancy Board.

Retired teachers, youth ministers and pastors, coaches and other positive role models are ideal candidates for the board, say program organizers.

The Oak Hill Community Truancy Board is based on a model that was effectively implemented in Washington state. Instead of a discipline-oriented approach that lands kids in juvenile court, the “Spokane Model” is designed to be non-adversarial and focused on problem-solving.

Truant students and their parents receive a letter inviting them to attend a Truancy Board hearing, where the student is given a chance to explain the absences.

Board members then use “creative problem-solving” to come up with a solution. Students ultimately sign an agreement based on the conversation and an administrator follows up to ensure they are held accountable.

Last year at Oak Hill High School, 603 of 981 students were considered habitual truants. There is a strong relationship between truancy and dropping out of school.

“The only plausible solution to these numbers is the development of a true community-wide response to this issue,” says Bill Sohonage, executive director of the Center of Hope in Mount Hope and one of the program’s lead volunteers.

He says the courtrooms and the Fayette County Schools attendance office are “impossibly numerically overburdened by the sheer volume of truancy cases.”

The Truancy Board will be composed of an administrator and a truancy coordinator from the school district, Oak Hill High School staff and community members.

Community members are included on the board in order to “help create an atmosphere of support to help keep truant students from falling through the cracks and dropping out of school,” say program organizers.

Ideally they will have the ability to volunteer approximately one to two days a month during school hours. Due to the board’s strict confidentiality, parents are not necessarily ideal board members.

“We believe that this problem is far too large for any one segment of our community to address alone, but we do have faith in the belief that together we can reverse this disturbing trend and change the lives of many of our most endangered students,” said Sohonage.

The program is funded by a 3-year $42,960 grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

To be considered for participation in the Oak Hill Community Truancy Board, contact Bill Sohonage at 724-570-4445 or Judy Lively, Fayette Schools attendance director, at 304-574-1176, ext. 2159.

— E-mail:

Text Only
Local News
  • Concord names Dr. Boggess as new president

    The Concord University Board of Governors has selected Dr. Kendra Boggess as the University’s 12th president, contingent upon approval by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

    April 23, 2014

  • fff Experts help growing entrepreneurs

    For farmers like the Yateses, there’s money on the table. They got to learn what and where some of those resources are at the Farm, Food, Finance seminar held at the Sandstone Visitor Center on Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Trucking association asks drivers to put down phones and drive safely

    As part of National Distracted Driving Month, the West Virginia Trucking Association is asking fellow drivers to put down the phone, according to a press release from the association.

    April 23, 2014

  • Rahall calls meeting on W.Va.’s drug problem

    U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall says he has arranged a roundtable discussion with federal and West Virginia officials on the state’s prescription drug abuse and trafficking problems.

    April 23, 2014

  • 042314 News APP Power.jpg Utility gets public input for project

    Construction on a $56 million transmission improvement project will begin in Fayette County come November, and representatives of Appalachian Power Company hosted a public workshop Tuesday at Midland Trail High School in order to gather community feedback before construction officially gets underway.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042314 News Burlington Circus Tix.jpg Burlington kids going to circus

    After a donation from a radio station, a group of local kids soon will get to see the wonders of the big top.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lewisburg takes initial step toward ‘Home Rule’

    While the state Department of Commerce touts the success of phase I of the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program, a Greenbrier County city hopes to be included in phase II, which will continue until July 1, 2019.

    April 23, 2014

  • United Way to host ‘One Day Without Shoes’ walk

    Everyone is invited to take off their shoes for a walk around town April 29 to raise global awareness about child poverty.

    April 23, 2014

  • Women’s Resource Center to show free film for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

    In effort to bring awareness and prevention, the Women’s Resource Center will host a free showing of the 2012 movie “Bully.”

    April 23, 2014

  • Ask the WVU experts on Facebook

    From graduation to gardening, West Virginia University Extension Service experts will provide their advice to participants’ specific questions during a new, weekly, one-hour question and answer session through its Facebook page.

    April 23, 2014