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Volunteers with Operation KEYS prepare to go door-to-door to get kids back in school

In Corpus Christi ISD, hundreds of students have not been showing up for class. Operation KEYS hopes to change that.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Hundreds of students within Corpus Christi ISD, for one reason or another, are not showing up for classes. Officials with the district said truancy is especially an issue with students around the age of 16 and 17. Students who were so close to getting their diplomas, but then changed course.

To try and curb truancy rates in the district, volunteers will be going to those student's homes to try and get them back to school.

It's called Operation KEYS, which stands for "Keeping Every Youth in School." The program has proven successful in the past. 

"We need to get them into school and that is why we are out there looking for them in our community," Jennifer Noyola, Coordinator for Attendance, Dropouts, and Leavers Prevention said. 

Noyola works with students who have been truant and those who have dropped out of CCISD. She said the reasons vary, from the pandemic interrupting learning to teens who have found themselves in tough situations. 

"They are working and providers for the home, parents aren't able to get a job, or something has happened in the family," Noyola said. 

Other reasons may include homelessness, or living with friends or neighbors. 

That's where Operation KEYS comes in. In 2021, the program was able to get 292 kids between grades 7 and 12 back in school. This year, the district is hoping to connect with about 4oo students. 

"They go out in groups, knock on the doors, find out why the student hasn't returned, how can we help them," Noyola said. 

Justice of the Peace Joe Benavides said parents really need to be held accountable for their kids not going to school.

"We need to put the gavel down and let them know it's against the law for them not to attend school," Benavides said. 

Benavides said he has already seen a lot of truancy cases on his desk this year. 

"There's all sorts of excuses, but the bottom line I tell all the parents and students, I tell them not to give up."

And that is the goal so those students don't have any regrets later in life. 

The KEYS walk will take place Saturday, Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. until noon. Volunteers are still needed. You can find information on how to help by clicking here.


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