'The kids run wild': More than 800 students habitually truant from Moore Traditional School
The video of a teenage girl attacked this week on the way home from school has uncovered another problem for Moore Traditional School. Kids are cutting class, and it's now a safety concern for the community.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- At times, it looks like recess on the streets surrounding Moore Traditional School. However, the middle and high school students stepping out on class are not known for fun and games, and people living and working nearby say they're fed up.
"For the whole school year, we would have 15 to 20 kids at a time cutting school," said Christy Sciarra, an employee at a nearby Burger King. "With JCPS saying it's police that need to do something. Police saying it's the parents."
The issue came to a head this week.
JCPS confirms the Moore students tied to an after school attack on a 15-year old girl cut class earlier in the day.
Lesley Davis spotted them from her apartment, loitering behind Pizza Hut and called police.
She says it took 30 minutes for officers to arrive, and by that time, the kids were gone.
"I want this woman whose granddaughter was attacked to know that we called. We try but nobody listens and then this is what happens," Davis said.
The problem shows up again during our interview, when Davis spotted a student with a Moore High School sweatshirt on walking down the street past the same Pizza Hut.
Davis called the school again and this time we waited with her. But after 20 minutes went by, the kids were gone and nobody came.
The school and a police department are about a block away from her home.
"We take these concerns very seriously, and as soon as possible either the SRO or an Assistant Principal will go out to a location and see what's going on," said Jennifer Breslin, spokesperson for JCPS.
When pressed on whether 20 minutes was really as soon as possible Breslin said, "Again, our primary responsibility is to the school."
The bottom line is JCPS says its security is often too tied up with discipline at school to catch these kids. Breslin also points out some students spotted off of school property are not skipping and left campus with permission.
Nonetheless, the district's own data considers nearly 850 Moore Middle and High School students "habitually truant." It means they have six or more unexcused absences.
One student boasted about being one of them.
"We don't learn nothing anyway," the Moore student said. "I learn more out here than I do in school."
Neighbors say at times, the kids are not just ditching. They're dangerous.
"Our laundry room has been broken into," Davis said. "Our maintenance office has been broken into. Windows busted out, Garmins and electronics stolen."
Sciarra shared stories of vandalism too.
"We've had burned bushes ... a table got broken."
A recent state audit found leadership lacking at Moore. As a result the principal is not coming back next year.
"I will say truancy is an issue at Moore as it is at other schools," Breslin said.
The district says it will work with police to beef up security patrols in the surrounding neighborhood and pilot a new program next year.
"That's going to track absences and trades and create instant communications with the families," Breslin said.
And neighbors say that is long overdue.
"The stuff with the guys jumping on the police car, and the girl getting jumped behind Highview -- that's just the tip of the iceberg with everything going on at Moore," Sciarra said.
"The kids run wild."
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