Six Lawyers Honored For Work With Children

Boone County lawyer Mike Mason knew he wanted to help schools cut down on truancy when he volunteered for a new program last year.

What he didn't know was how much he would get from the experience.

I didn't anticipate developing a rapport with these kids," Mason said.  "I never knew that they would look up to me as a friend and a mentor."

Mason is one of six lawyers who will receive an award next month from Kentucky Child Now! given to individuals who have made a positive impact on children and youth in Kentucky.  The lawyers will be recognized for their volunteer efforts with the Attendance Intervention and Mediation (AIM) Program, which targets truancy in Boone County Schools.

The program at R.A. Jones Middle School started during the 2003-2004 school year and expanded to three additional schools this year.

Modeled after truancy court in Louisville, the program solicits lawyers to work with students who have escalating attendance problems.  The lawyers review teacher reports and confer with a social worker to help the students and their parents deal with truancy issues

Other lawyers who volunteered in the program and Roger Braden, Joanne Grogan, Larry Hicks, Mike McMain and Michael A. O'Hara.

In addition to R.A. Jones in Florence, the program operated out of Ockerman and Florence elementary schools, both in Florence, for the entire school year, and at Conner middle School in Hebron for one semester.

At Ockerman, Mason was one of two lawyers who attended weekly sessions checking students' attendance and their work.

"Our group was geared to giving these kids some of the attention they needed," Mason said. 

In many cases, that extra attention was what was needed to get the students back on track.

Boone County social worker Staci Alder also works with coordinators at schools' family resource centers to assist families and with a therapist from the Children's Home of Northern Kentucky to provide in-home counseling.

This program is funded by the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice through Boone County's Department of Human Services.

June, 15, 2005, The Kentucky Post, Reporter, Crystal Harden.