RCSD Leaders Address Truancy
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It's what Rochester City School District leaders envision: all of its classrooms filled to capacity. However, getting kids to school is an ongoing issue.
School board president Malik Evans believes the entire community must get involved to solve the truancy problem that plagues test scores and graduation rates. He also says parents have to be held accountable for their children's education.
"It's the law. So a parent is breaking the law if a student is not being sent to school," Evans said. "The biggest issue we have of students not showing up, believe it or not, is at the elementary level. So that means parents are falling down on the job. As of last week, I think a thousand kids had not shown up and school's been in session for two weeks."
Evans says discussions continue with city leaders to assist the district with its truancy issue. That may involve Rochester police officers helping get students back to school.
"This is a collaboration that we've had with the school district I'm going to say for 20 years," said Chief James Sheppard of the Rochester Police Departments. "We have a truancy van. In the past, we've had actual school resource officers or school safety officers ride with our people as we engaged students. I think it's a good thing to get going on because the fact of the matter is if a kid doesn't recognize the importance of education, it creates a lot of problems for me and the business that I'm in."
One of the solutions to the district's truancy problem is All-City High School. This is the first year for the alternative school which allows students a flexible schedule.
Students set their own schedules and that allows them to better meet their educational needs. The school has exceeded it's capacity resulting in classrooms full of students eager to learn.
"It's exciting because kids are telling other students. We have a wait list of students who want to come here and it's not that I'm out soliciting the school, it's the students out telling their friends," said Sandy Jordan, principal.
Evans calls the truancy issue upsetting. He believes too many students don't take education seriously.
"It's upsetting because I think a lot of people don't realize the importance of education and how it's the great equalizer. It's the only way that you're going to make it in this society is if you get a good, quality education," said Evans.