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Reducing Truancy

Metro Student Attendance Center

The Metro-Student Attendance Center (M-SAC) is a program operated by the Metro Nashville Juvenile Court in partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Metro Nashville Police Department with the goal of decreasing truancy rates in Nashville schools by addressing the root causes of truancy.

M-SAC opened in 2008 after Mayor Karl Dean provided funding for the program in the city's operating budget. The proposal for an attendance center was first announced at a truancy summit held by Mayor Dean in March of that year. During the summit, representatives from Police, Schools and Juvenile Court came together to develop formal agreements on how to reduce student truancy. 

The need for such a facility was confirmed with the recommendations presented to Mayor Dean by Project for Student Success, a 40-member task force the mayor convened soon after taking office in 2007 to find ways to reduce the number of students dropping out of Metro schools.

Students may be brought to M-SAC after being detained by police for loitering during school hours. Students may also be referred by Metro Schools because of truancy concerns. At M-SAC, probation officers talk to students and parents to determine the reasons for being out of school. Intervention plans are developed for each student, and families complete the plans under M-SAC’s monitoring over a period of four to eight weeks.  Cases are closed when families successfully complete their intervention plans.  If troubles continue, cases progress to Juvenile Court.

Since the creation of M-SAC, and with new strong attendance policies enforced by Metro Schools, the truancy rate in Nashville has dropped by 45 percent. 

For more information contact Atica Helms, M-SAC Director at (615) 862-6722 or AticaHelms@jis.nashville.org.