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Nashville 'truancy court' works to keep students in school (


Carol Brown, the Director of Attendance for the Metro Nashville Public Schools, speaks with "Nightline."© ABC News

To read more of ABC News' Byron Pitts, Lizann Robinson, Mack Muldofsky, Lauren DiMundo, Caroline Kucera, and Deb Jones contributed to this report, please click here, Nashville 'truancy court' works to keep students in school (

In Nashville, Tennessee, school officials have created a truancy court to address chronic absenteeism. If a student fails to show up to the classroom for more than 15 days, they can be called to a truancy court. The state has 20% chronic absenteeism.

Calhoun says the team he works with comes up with strategies for each student. The Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Juvenile Court work with community organizations to ensure each family gets help – if someone is experiencing homelessness, that student and their family is then connected to the necessary support systems in the community.

But Calhoun says that sometimes the solution to going to school is simple – it’s finding joy.

“The one thing that they always say is my school attendance problem was fixed because my student is enjoying school more,” Calhoun said. “It's typically a welcoming school environment where a kid is valued. And so, in the end, if I could say one thing, it's you've got to figure out ways to make those connections.”

But Sonya Douglass, a professor of education and leadership, says she’s personally disappointed by the current education system.

“I think we continue to focus on what students aren't doing and why they aren't doing it, and not looking at the real source of the problem, which is the system that we have created,” said Douglass, who is founding director of the Black Education Research Collective at Teachers College of Columbia University. “And so, it's time to reimagine that system and change it to adapt to the needs of the 21st century.”

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