SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – As students return to school, the Shreveport City Marshal’s office is expanding its truancy program to keep kids in school.

They’re working with the District Attorney’s Office to combat rising truancy rates in the city. When kids are roaming the streets or students have more than four unexcused absences or tardies, officials will conduct welfare checks.

“The Marshal’s office is going to be on board doing the welfare checks, knocking on the doors, to help the kids. The kids need to be in school,” says Marshal James Jefferson.

The truancy rate has risen by 22 percent in the past five years. According to District Attorney James Stewart, it totaled 40% statewide during the 2020-2021 school year. Stewart says the number of students missing classes in Louisiana is rising. He added the Shreveport City Marshal’s office and the District Attorney’s office planned to get to the bottom of things.

“They are going to look to see if they see any other crimes going on in the house, drug use, or anything else. And then the whole law enforcement community will get involved with that, and that goes in a different direction,” says Stewart.

Both organizations worked together in the past. The new intensive program uses stronger measures to lessen the number of students who drop out of school.

“What we’re trying to do is let the parents know they’re going to be looking. If your child is not in school, somebody is going to be knocking on your door,” says Stewart.

The court will serve papers to parents who fail to comply. They could be fined or incarcerated.