School districts, police agencies express support for proposed truancy ordinance

VALE – Support for a proposed truancy ordinance in Malheur County is gaining momentum, including from every local school district, officials in several towns and two police agencies.
That was the message Mark Redmond, superintendent of the Malheur Education Service District, delivered to the Malheur County Court on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
The court took no action on the proposal but confirmed Malheur County Counsel Stephanie Williams crafting such an ordinance.
Under the proposed ordinance, a parent or guardian could be cited for a student’s chronic absence. That is defined as missing 10% or more of scheduled school days.
Redmond said in January absenteeism in the county was significant with more than 1,000 students regularly missing class.
Redmond told the court he’s received letters and emails of support from all the school districts, the Ontario and Nyssa police departments and the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office.
He said he also received notification of support from the cities of Ontario and Nyssa.
Redmond said officials in Vale have also voiced support but have not formally acted. That’s because, he said, jurisdictional issues regarding the Vale Municipal Court need to be clarified.
“There needs to be more verbiage in the ordinance to include the municipal court,” said Todd Fuller, Vale city manager.
Joining Redmond at the county court session were Nikki Albisu, Ontario School District superintendent; Alisha McBride, Vale School District superintendent; and Nick Ketterling, Adrian School District superintendent,.
“I think everybody is for it. Everybody realizes that attendance is an issue and we need to address it. But I think everyone realize there isn’t a quick fix,” said Redmond late last week.
Redmond said the proposed ordinance, if passed, would not go into effect until next year.

The path forward now for the ordinance after it is finalized will be at least two public hearings before the court makes a final decision. Official have not disclosed a timeline regarding when the proposed mandate would be finalized.
The idea for the ordinance sprouted late last year and Redmond met with the court in January and briefed it on the proposal.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

Previous coverage:
School officials seek Malheur County law to curb high student absenteeism

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