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Casanova, who serves as the LJISD attendance/truancy supervisor, and LJISD Chief of Police Raul Gonzalez, met last week with police departments from Sullivan City, La Joya, Peñitas and the Hidalgo County Sherriff’s Office to discuss how all entities can work together to keep school-age children in the classroom.
“The Student Safe Return Program initiative focuses on kids getting educated,” said Gonzalez. “La Joya ISD’s goal is to make sure everyone gets college or career ready and it is important the public understands it is not only the district’s responsibility to get students in school and not only parents, but also members of the community that are either in sales or customer service.”
The plan is to get area businesses to help enforce existing city ordinances by calling school district police or city police if they see kids without adult supervision. Casanova said it is a joint effort that stresses collaboration and support in order to succeed. Currently all cities, excluding Peñitas, have a city ordinance in place that prohibits children six to 18 years of age, or those enrolled in school, from being in public places without an adult present.
The City of Peñitas will be proposing the same ordinance at an upcoming city council meeting.
Casanova is posting flyers identifying the numbers to call, and leaving a copy of the city ordinance, which along with the support from police in responding to violations, helps empower the business community.
“What businesses are telling me is that [truancy] is a problem and now, this gives them more authority to say, you are in violation of the city ordinance,” said Casanova.
By working together, LJISD and its communities are set to benefit, district officials said.
“We want our students to be members of the community that are going to be productive and we can’t allow kids to not get an education,” says Gonzalez. “The Student Safe Return Program is about enforcing the ordinances and getting kids back where they belong, which is in the classroom.”
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.