NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)—The New Orleans City Council is taking a fresh look at juvenile truancy and its connection with crime.
Officials say, since the COVID-19 pandemic, Orleans Parish has seen a historic amount of truancy among juveniles.
“On the fifth of this year, we had a teen dropped off at an emergency room at 2:20 a.m. in the morning who died,” Council President JP Morrell said. “I mean, this is reality right now in the city.”
During Monday’s community development committee meeting, council members declared they will collaborate with the school board to reestablish the city’s truancy center.
“Because there’s an effort by both the council and the school board to collaborate and share resources to staff a truancy center, as well as enable a variety of different law enforcement groups to try to help kids who are truant be brought to a truancy center, so their parents can be contacted, and they can be resourced,” Morrell explained.
The committee tabled bringing back the city’s curfew center that previously addressed issues after school late into the night.
A spokeswoman for the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights says a curfew doesn’t curb violence; instead, it further strains the relationship between kids and police officers.
“As we hear calls from the public to do something about what is very serious, that we do something that works and that we don’t just double down in doing what we’ve always been doing that hasn’t been working,” Kristen Rome, the co-executive director for Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, said.
However, once a truancy center is established, city stakeholders may revisit the curfew center discussion.
“If part of the potential curfew center is ensuring that we understand what’s happening with young people and we make sure that they get the resources that they need, no matter the time of the day, we’re in support of young people getting the resources that they need always,” Rome said.
Some city council members are eager to revisit the curfew topic because part of enforcing curfew is holding the parents accountable.
We reached out to the school board about federal funding, and a spokeswoman says some federal grant allocations are driven by enrollment.