Garland ISD Launches Program to Bring Back Students Who Have Dropped Out

Each day, they're hitting the pavement, trying to find out why students dropped out of school.

Part cop, part counselor, they're hoping to help these young people, who often gave up education for an occupation.

It's called Operation Opportunity, Garland ISD's effort to develop one-on-one relationships with students who have dropped out of school and help steer them back to the classroom.

"I'm working, I'm trying to pay off my car, it's hard for me to just come up with some money," one teen they caught up with at home said. "I've got to work all day and get a full-time job and I've got other bills to pay."

"A lot of students, primarily with our immigrant population, they are here to work," Garland ISD Truancy Manager Paul Aguilar said. "It's conflicting for them because they want to help their families."

Garland ISD officials are going door-to-door to talk to students and their parents to find solutions. It's not just a pipe dream -- it's working. Just ask Geo Vazquez.

"Personal issues, some stuff going on and school was just not good for me at the time and I dropped out," he said.

Vazquez was 18, in his senior year when he walked out of school and said he never planned to come back until Garland ISD's truancy manager knocked on his door.

"He actually came to my doorstep and knocked. That means he actually cared about me in order to finish school," Vazquez said. "He went out his way tried to get me back in school and here I am, finishing up!"

The district's at-risk coordinator, Angela Daniels, said dropouts are not a big problem for Garland, but she said every student should have someone fighting for them and Garland ISD has decided they're going to do it.

"We have the entire district involved, including our superintendent, assistant superintendents, every campus has a point person and a team that is ready and willing to accept these students," she said.

Vazquez is on track to earn his diploma and said he wanted to go to culinary school.

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