Too Many Newport Students Are Skipping School
The Newport School Committee discussed the reasons for truancy and how to keep students in the classroom during its meeting Tuesday night.
Superintendent John H. Ambrogi said the schools did an analysis of students with more than six absences from November to the beginning of December.
“We still have a sizable number of students on track to have over 10 percent absences per year,” he said.
The schools have also sent letters home to parents when their children miss too many school days.
Student Attendance Facilitator Eddie Merritt addressed the committee with the continued interventions the schools do for students who are or show signs of becoming truant.
“We visited every principal [in the beginning of the year] to ... dedice how to attack truancy issues this year,” Merritt said. “As in the years past, the principals are supportive of everything we do.”
Merritt also said he encourages the schools to be “extremely aggressive” with families who gave “lame excuses” as to why their children could not attend school. If students are in fact too sick to attend school, the nurse will make sure they are able to go home, he said.
“I have yet to run into a family that will admit that they don’t care about education,” Merritt said. “They also don’t want you in their business.”
He added that only about 3 to 4 percent said bullying was a reason their child did not go to school.
Several school committee members said they wish parents and students would be held more accountable for their actions, such as being sent to truancy court and following through with consistent attendance.
Merritt said the problem with truancy court is there is a large gap of time between hearings when a judge is telling the parents and student he or she must attend school.
“We need to close that gap of time,” Merritt said.