Dismantling of truancy unit raising questions about non-profit truancy centers

A $125,000 contract between the city of Columbus and YMCA to fund two non-profit truancy centers was signed weeks before Columbus police dismantled its truancy unit. (WSYX/WTTE)

A $125,000 contract between the city of Columbus and YMCA to fund two non-profit truancy centers was signed weeks before Columbus Police dismantled its truancy unit.

ABC 6/FOX 28 uncovered CPD was getting rid of its seven-officer truancy unit at the end of this school year to free up resources for a new computer forensics team. The officers would patrol neighborhoods surrounding some of Columbus City Schools 110 buildings to look for kids cutting class. Once stopped, truancy officers would either take the kids back to school, juvenile court or one of two truancy centers operated by the YMCA. Students who are taken to the “Y” would receive counseling, be fed and assigned a desk where they’d be instructed to do school work. If the student’s parents could not pick them up, staff from the YMCA would drive the student home. The major of the kids who went to the centers would be dropped off by a CPD truancy Officer.

CPD administration told ABC 6/FOX 28 that only 50 of the kids picked up went to the centers this year.

They suggested the centers may not be worth the cost.

“That’s about $5,600 per child and they’re only there for a few hours,” said Deputy Chief Tom Quinlan. “We have to look for something we can no longer do.”

The director of the YMCA truancy centers told ABC 6/FOX 28 that the city has not notified him that they’d wish to void the contract just signed in March. He also fears daytime crime will increase without truancy officers on the street.

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