The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law December 2009
ADR @ Moritz

Dispute Resolution Association Endorses Truancy Mediation Project

Priya TamilarasanBy Priya Tamilarasan
Class of 2010

The Dispute Resolution Association has endorsed the launching of a Truancy Mediation Project here at Moritz. This project seeks to fill a void recent unfortunate budget cuts created. By providing trained and skilled mediators, Moritz can rebuild this necessary program at little to no cost.

Each month, over a hundred kids are charged with the crime of truancy and required to appear at a preliminary hearing. Although Truancy is considered an Unruly offense, lower than a Minor Misdemeanor, failure to appear at court results in an active warrant for the child’s detention. Each month, over half the children who are charged with Truancy fail to appear at their preliminary hearing. Those that do appear are informed that they have an excess of unexcused absences from the prior semester. By the time they appear in front of a Judge or Magistrate, however, the child typically has already completed the school year, or in the alternative, never returned to school. Once the child appears before a Judge or Magistrate, he or she will be admonished and told to go to school. As basic and universal as this advice is, it is often just the e beginning of the child’s interaction with the criminal justice system.

There is an alternative. The Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Division, administers a mediation program that serves juvenile offenders for various offenses. Truancy mediation was a successful facet of this program until it was discontinued due to lack of funding. During the program’s existence, people would intervene prior to the school filing any criminal charges. Immediately after the school noticed some unexcused absences, the child was referred to mediation. The child, her parents, and the teacher would then meet with a trained truancy mediator. These mediations showed incredible potential for ensuring attendance and diverting the child from the juvenile court system.

For those interested in mediating these cases, Moritz will offer a one day truancy mediation training in January to ensure that the student is capable and ready to deal with the issues unique to these cases. The mediations will mostly occur during the school day and during the school year only. We will be able to work around volunteer schedules.

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The Caucus, the newsletter published by the Moritz Program on Dispute Resolution, is designed to share ADR news with the Moritz community and beyond, as well as provide Moritz students with information regarding externship and employment opportunities. Questions regarding this publication should be directed to Erin Archerd, Langdon Fellow in Dispute Resolution.