Buffalo State College, assistant professor of English, Theresa A. Harris Tiggs interviewed last Thursday for the vacant East District School Board seat "suggested revisiting the idea of attendance teachers to help get more students back in school."
Nearly six years ago the Buffalo Board of Education laid-off 15 attendance teachers from a cadre of 18 teachers, leaving only 3 to address the absenteeism in the Buffalo schools. And two years ago when one of these teachers retired, he was not replaced two teachers left to address the attendance problems in a school district of 33,000 students.
Yet the schools designated as the "persistently lowest performing" schools, especially the high schools had attendance rates lower than 74%. Still, the district officials balk at reinstating the attendance teacher now going into their sixth year of being laid-off unnecessarily and wrongfully.
The attendance teachers the district laid-off on August 2005 were mostly contract/tenure teachers with a few probationary. How does one gut a cadre of attendance teachers and not expect it would ricochet throughout out the entire Buffalo School district increasing absenteeism? Since 2005, attendance rates steadily dropped yearly in the high schools until now in one school the rate was as low as nearly 73%. There is a clear correlation between the steadily drop in attendance rates at the high schools and the lay-off of the attendance teachers in the Buffalo schools, but the district still has not hired these teachers.