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Ohio Lawmaker Hopes a Truancy Bill Will Help Young Kids With Mental Health Issues

photo of Peggy Lehner

One of the education bills sitting in the Ohio General Assembly deals with truancy. And although lawmakers are on break through the November elections, a top state senator has at least one change in mind.  

The truancy bill creates several provisions to help a child who is consistently absent, including intervention teams that can help that child avoid the court system.

Republican Sen. Peggy Lehner says one change she’d like to make is to eliminate suspensions and expulsions of children younger than 9-years-old, with some exceptions. She says the schools should have alternatives for these kids – many of whom are struggling with mental health issues.

"It can happen at a very early age as opposed to waiting until they’re 15, 16 (when) you add addiction and all sorts of other things on,” she said.

Lehner believes the changes can relieve some of the stress put on parents who are seeking mental health and behavioral services from the state.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.