Two Prince George’s County Metro stops are the target of a pilot truancy program to keep students off the streets during class, said Metro Transit Police.
The Addison Road-Seat Pleasant and Capitol Heights Blue Line Metro stations are two of six stops system-wide that police began monitoring the week of Sept. 3 to identify wayward students and drive them back to school, said Ronald Pavlik, a Metro Transit Police deputy chief.
“Usually we wait to see a spike so to speak so we were trying to do this and be a little more proactive to get ahead of it before it started,” Pavlik said.
Anacostia, Deanwood, L’Enfant Plaza and Minnesota Avenue stations in Washington, D.C., were chosen based on their proximity to schools and history for loitering students, Pavlik said. Capitol Heights’ Central High School is two-tenths of a mile away from the Addison Road-Seat Pleasant station. Pavlik said depending on intelligence they receive about a possible fight, officers may approach people they believe are students in plain clothes or as a united front wearing uniforms to apprehend youth.
Pavlik said Metro Transit Police meets once per month with Central High Principal Charoscar Coleman and has had a relationship with the administrator since the 2011-12 school year when there were reports of fights taking place after school hours off school property.
Coleman said he is in regular contact with both Metro Transit and Prince George’s County police even before the Sept. 11 homicide of Central junior Marckel Ross, which remains under county police investigation.
“It’s important for us to partner with law enforcement to provide a safe and orderly environment for our school,” Coleman said. “Truancy, if not addressed, can have a negative impact on student achievement. We want to make sure they’re in school and learning every day.”
Since the program started, police have identified six truant students among the six stations and two people police first thought were students but turned out to be adults with prior criminal records, Pavlik said. It is up to individual school administrations what will happen to that student once they return to school, Pavlik said.
At Addison Road-Seat Pleasant, the most reported crime is failing to pay fare, followed by selling items like cigarettes without a license and robbery, said Caroline Lukas, a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokeswoman. At Capitol Heights, the failure to pay still is at the top but robbery is number two, followed by drinking in public, Lukas said.
Pavlik said they will see what data they have after four months to see if the program is effective and whether to continue.
“Usually kids are somewhat excited to get to school at the beginning of the year and if grades aren’t going their way their attention tends to wean off a little bit,” Pavlik said.