Haleyville City Schools creating plan to address chronic absence problem

Haleyville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Holly Sutherland addresses the topic of chronic absenteeism at a recent working session. Also shown is board member Brian Vickery.

HALEYVILLE        -  Chronic absenteeism  has become a major problem at Haleyville City Schools.
At a recent working session of the Haleyville Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Holly Sutherland stressed to board members that absenteeism had become such a problem that is must be addressed through changes in the student handbook, as well as new incentive measures to encourage children to be in school.
Sutherland directed board members’ attention to the HCS Student Code of Conduct.
“If a child misses a certain amount of days and they are unexcused, they don’t have a parent’s note or a doctor’s note, we can use (truancy officer) Randy Brimer and other resources and consider them truant,” Sutherland pointed out.
The code stipulates that if a student misses 18 days, he or she is considered excessively absent, and that is a mark against the system on the state’s report card for the system concerning a truancy issue, the superintendent continued.
“Unfortunately, the problem is, the state department does not distinguish between if it’s excused or unexcused,” Sutherland pointed out.
“We’ve got to do something,” Sutherland pointed out, “because with the chronic absentee number, and with the fact that you can write notes and you can get medical notes, there is no way for us to hold accountable someone who has parent notes and who has doctors excuses, yet they are excessively absent, except for trying positive incentivizing (measures), building relationships, trying to stress the importance,” Sutherland said.
If a child, for example, misses three days a month throughout the school year, by the end of the year, not only are they going to be suffering academically, but they are going to be counted toward chronic absenteeism on  the system’s report card, Sutherland explained.
“Since COVID, we have seen about a 10 percent increase in absenteeism,” she noted.



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