LAUSD and ECC adopt attendance plan to raise low attendance rates

imageThe East Los Angeles Library was filled with parents, students, ECC and LAUSD representatives to hear about new attendance goals. The Education Coordinating Council is an organization devoted to improving education. Trish Ploehn, an ECC member, outlined their goals.

“Children are ready for school no matter what grade they’re going into, that they perform well once they’re in school, that they graduate from high school, that they go to college and graduate from college, and they move on to employment and a career. That is what we want from our youngsters,” Ploehn said.

The ECC, along with LAUSD, have teamed up to devise a plan to boost attendance in over 80 schools. LAUSD Board President, Monica Garcia, presided over the meeting. She emphasized the name change from “truancy” to “attendance” report. ECC member, Sharon Watson, said that truancy has a negative connotation. Fellow LAUSD social worker and parent, Debra Duardo, was pleased with the name change.

“I’m so happy that we changed the name to an attendance task force, rather than a truancy task force, because we really need to work together and get our whole community to understand, when kids don’t come to school, it impacts us all,” Duardo said.

Duardo says that the problems start in kindergarten. Nationally, one out of ten kindergarten students are absent for 28 days throughout the year. In LAUSD, it’s one out of five kids. For African-Americans in LAUSD, it’s worse, with one out of three students. Parents like Ruth Tiscareno voiced concerns about students falling through the cracks.

“My concern is of all the children who are seriously and emotionally disturbed, who have IEP’s, who have parents that do understand or don’t understand that attendance is important, but that it also coincides with the IEP. Sometimes, if you don’t know, you can’t fight for your rights,” Tiscareno said.

Tiscareno says she wants more parents to get involved with the LAUSD Board and hopes members understand how different problems arise in parenting.

LAUSD is working on a number of ideas to improve attendance such as: incentives for positive behavior and a strong data tracking system to consistently determine why children are absent.

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