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Fewer absentees means more graduates

Posted: September 26, 2012 - 12:01am

How’s this for a “duh” moment?
The Chronicle’s recent analysis of chronic school absenteeism shows that Richmond County high schools with the lowest graduation rate also have the highest rate of absenteeism.

Chronic absenteeism isn’t as big a problem in Columbia County. But while there’s still work to be done, the good news is Columbia County is doing it – though Richmond County seems to be not only ignoring the problem, but ignoring the law.

Officials there admitted Richmond County’s attendance committee hasn’t even held the minimum number of required meetings since it was formed in 2005. Some members didn’t even know they had been appointed.

Columbia County’s truancy committee sets a much better example, and with leadership from Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan, it works to make sure parents understand they can go to jail if they allow their kids to lay out of school. That’s helped reduce chronic absenteeism.

It also helps keep the streets safe. Areas with tough enforcement of truancy laws have found their juvenile crime rate drops.

Perhaps more importantly, getting more students to obtain a high school diploma has to be a constant goal for any school system. The best place to start is making sure students attend school in the first place.

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