Parents Catherine and Michael Wood know how tough it can be to get children to school.
The couple and their children, James, 17, and Rebecca, 14, moved to Clairton from Florida a year ago to live with a widowed relative. They could afford to bring only whatever belongings could fit in their car.
James, a high school junior, and Rebecca, an eighth-grader, initially started at Clairton's cyber school largely because of the 2-mile distance between their residence and the Clairton Education Center.
But both teens quickly lost interest and quit logging in, "probably because they were not putting the time in and probably because of the lack of interaction with other kids," Mr. Wood said.
After getting a truancy letter from the district, the parents and their children appeared before Glassport District Judge Armand Martin, who told the students they had to attend school.
As a result, they enrolled in Clairton's program that puts students in cyber school for half day and regular school for half day.
From there, Rebecca transitioned to full days in regular school, but her brother continued to be truant. Then, Rebecca missed a few days, which triggered another alert to her parents from school officials and another appearance before the judge.
Rebecca missed school in Clairton because she didn't like the 2-mile walk, especially in the cold weather. Her father drove her to school until the family's car was repossessed in October. But after her second appearance before Judge Martin, Rebecca took heed and started to attend school regularly.
By April, when the family was set to appear again before Judge Martin for a continued hearing, Rebecca had been attending regularly and had excellent grades to report. Her brother, however, withdrew from school just minutes before the hearing.
As Clairton school officials became involved in the Woods case, they found that the family had few resources and was living off the paychecks from the parents' part-time jobs.
The district referred the family to the Office of Children, Youth and Families, which connected the family to social services that have helped to meet some of their needs. The family received bus passes for transportation and assistance in finding a home of their own to rent in West Homestead.
However, the new residence has brought them full circle. The residence is located 2.2 miles from Steel Valley High School, where Rebecca intended to enroll. But the district has no school buses and Rebecca doesn't want to walk the distance.
So Mrs. Wood said she plans to enroll her in a cyber school once again. This time, Mrs. Wood is hoping for better results.