Exeter police chief handles increased student truancies
Plans to certify as school resource officer at Exeter school district
EXETER -- The Exeter School District is working with the local police chief in hopes of improving attendance.
Morgan Struble, Exeter police chief, comes to the school each day from 8:30-10:30 a.m. and gathers a list of students who are tardy from the high school and elementary secretaries, said Superintendent Ernest Raney. To help students get to school regularly, Struble then talks with the principals about what families he should followup with on a consistent basis.
"I think we haven't had any more of an issue with truancy than any other school," Raney said. "I just believe that whenever schools work cooperatively with the resources that we have available to us within our community, it just further strengthens the ability to help our students with education in general."
Struble said he wants to provide a presence at the school.
"If a student is having problems getting to school, when law enforcement gets in contact, it tends to have a little bit more of an effect than just school staff," he said.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education evaluates attendance in the annual performance reports. To get the full points, each district must maintain a ratio of at least 90 percent of the students attending school 90 percent of the time.
In the 2013 APR, Exeter received 10 out of 10 points for attendance at the high school and the elementary school. In the 2014 APR, the elementary school received 10 out of 10 points, while the high school received 7.5 out of 10 points.
Struble said he wants the students to become familiar with him as a positive influence.
"But, I think it's more of a well-rounded position, almost like a part-time resource officer," he said. "I'm not just there for truant cases."
Struble recently qualified as a Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer after completing a two-week training seminar in Oklahoma City. He can now teach D.A.R.E. classes at the Exeter School.
"Since I am basically doing school resource officer duties, I will have to attend a 40-hour school resource officer course through the Missouri Police Chiefs Association in June," he said. "In the state of Missouri, you're obligated by law to be certified as a school resource officer to work within the schools."
He has about a year from the time he starts helping with the school to become certified as a school resource officer, Struble said.
"I will get it done within my timeframe," he said.
When he comes to the school at 8:30 a.m., Struble said he secures the doors after the students arrive. He has also discussed improving safety measures, procedures and policies with Robert Taylor, Exeter High School principal. Struble will also attend several sporting events and school functions in the evenings.
"I like to be involved as much as possible in all aspects," he said.
Struble's duties at the school are an extension of an agreement between the district and the city of Exeter concerning the crosswalk, Raney said. The district assists the crosswalk guard each morning and afternoon.
"We pay the city to employ students to work the crosswalk," he said. "The city shares that cost as well."