Mamie Till Mobley

"There was an important mission for me, to shape so many...young minds as a teacher. God took away one child but...(gave) me thousands. And I have been grateful for the blessing." Mamie Till Mobley

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Attendance officers best remedy to combat truancy

The dismal attendance rates and the continuing high number  of absences in the Buffalo Public School made headline news again this morning when Buffalo News education blogger Mary Pasciak wrote, "Contagion of absence infect system."
While it's important for the district to tweak the duties of attendance officers, attempting to turn them into social workers may backfire.  Associate Superintendent William Keresztes  said, the district was "...designing these positions (attendance officers)  to be very supportive of families, to be very intervention-focused." 
Yet,  the district should consider revamping its comprehensive attendance policy according to Commissioner's Regulation 104.1  where there are  guidelines it must follow such as a written "description of incentives or disciplinary actions, notice to parents of truants, the process to develop specific intervention strategies and the identification of the persons (s) designated in each school building responsible for reviewing attendance records and initiating appropriate action.."
However, there will be many occasions when the attendance officer simply has to make an arrest of a truant (in NYC they have badges) after the intervention doesn't work. It's important for truants and families of truants to view this as the primary role of the attendance officer, following their cases through the court system both City and Family Courts besides monitoring and tracking chronically absent students and referring those with problems to the appropriate school professionals or community organizations. The powers and the duties of an attendance officers are outlined in New York State Education Law Section 3213 - Chapter 16, Title IV, Article 65, Part I.
Also, the district had used the Attendance Intervention Mobile (AIM) in the past where attendance officers were paired up with police officers in the high schools not only to combat truancy but to arrest them as well if the intervention required it. The method was effective and the best way to pair an police officer with a truant officer who many times are more knowledgeable about students and school related matters and authorized through section 3213 to arrest the truants.  Unfortunately about 2003, the district abolished the AIM team either the city no longer funded the positions or for other reasons.

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    Whitney Tilson (3rd background)

    Whitney Tilson (3rd background)
    "Let’s be honest: we need a lot more well-off, well-educated white folks with a personal stake in both charter schools and education reform in general if we’re going to take reform to the next level, both politically and operationally.Whitney Tilson, hedge fund manager and major funding angel for the school privatizing Democrats for Education Reform, thinks there’s not enough rich, educated white folks.( Preaprez) click photo to his blog.

    Arne Duncan

    Arne Duncan
    U.S. Secretary of Education, click photo