Rochester, N.Y.—There are approximately 29 percent of Charlotte High School students who have been absent so far this year, according to the Rochester City School District. The number takes into account students who've skipped school and others with excused absences. District leaders say students who are skipping school represent the district's largest problem.
“We need to make sure all our students are attending school on a regular basis,” said Superintendent Bolgen Vargas.
Mayor Tom Richards, Vargas and other government and community agency leaders were part of a “blitz” of the families of truant students last Friday. They visited 93 homes and contacted 52 families.
“I think it’s good that some people are taking initiative to do something about truancy,” said Marlin Johnson, who has a brother and two nephews in city schools.
Johnson says one nephew struggles with reading and is behind. He has urged the teen to work harder and attend school.
“That’s just me going over and putting my foot in his butt to get him on track, said Johnson. “It was done to me when I was little.”
Aside from “blitzing” families of truant students, Vargas has tentative plans to deal with the issue that include:
-Adding sports, art and music programs at schools lacking certain ones
-Holding students accountable by working with family court to better enforce chronic absence violations
-Creating a hotline for parents to call regarding their child’s attendance
By the numbers
Among the schools handpicked by RCSD during the initial “blitz,” Charlotte High School had the worst attendance record at 29 percent. Again, not all of the following numbers are for unexcused absences.