New Orleans public schools roll out program to cut student absences

February 6, 2019 | The Times-Picayune

Research shows students who chronically miss school are less likely to succeed academically and more likely to drop out of high school. Starting this year, New Orleans public schools are partnering with community leaders to address the city’s own high rate of absenteeism through an initiative called “Keeping Kids in School.”

Nearly a quarter of the 48,000 students in Orleans Parish public school missed 15 to 18 days of class during the 2017-2018 school year, according to the Orleans Parish School Board, which is helming the initiative. That adds up to more than 10 percent of the school year. Additionally, the latest data shows chronic absenteeism is on the rise in New Orleans in recent years.

Angela Wiggins, executive director of the OPSB’s Office of Child Welfare and Attendance, said the new initiative aims to address all the causes of absences, from truancy, or cases where students are intentionally skipping school, to absences caused by medical problems. The school board noted a wide range of issues affect school attendance, including poverty, juvenile arrests, lack of access to social services, and weak, uncoordinated support systems for students and their families.

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