Renville County Attorney Kelsie Kingstrom aims to address truancy in schools

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— Renville County Attorney Kelsie Kingstrom is looking to launch an effort to address student truancy this fall as her office catches up on a backlog of criminal cases.

Kingstrom told the Renville County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that the office is seeing progress in closing the large number of cases it is managing.

This June, it was able to close 57 cases while opening 51 new cases. It is the first time since her appointment as county attorney at the start of April that the office has been able to close more cases than were opened.

The office continues to see a steady load of new criminal cases. In May, she had reported that the office had a total workload of 680 files of all types and termed it a "humongous" load for the small office.

While it is making progress, the office has been taxed.

Kingstrom told the commissioners that the office has been operating without an administrative assistant and a service coordinator. Replacements for each position have been hired and will be on board, she said.

She said she would like to reduce the volume of criminal cases so that the office can devote more of its time to civil and family cases, some of which must be outsourced at this time.

It is also her intention to work with school districts in the county to address truancy issues. The attorney said she has previous experience working on truancy issues. She emphasized the importance of reaching at-risk students quickly, before they fall days behind in school.

She also told the commissioners her office will also be focusing on judicial forfeiture to confiscate vehicles and other property used in the commission of crimes. The forfeiture of property can help fund law enforcement and county attorney operations, Kingstrom told the commissioners.

It's another way to deter crime by taking away the vehicles used in the commission of crimes, she added.