NEW ORLEANS — Mayor LaToya Cantrell today joined Superintendent of New Orleans Public Schools (NOLA-PS), Dr. Avis Williams, in welcoming students and families back to school this fall.

With most schools starting next week, Mayor Cantrell and Dr Williams jointly stressed the importance of showing up on time, from the first day of the school year. Mayor Cantrell called on the entire community – parents, students, teachers, businesses and community organizations – to get involved now and make school attendance a priority.

“It is a collaborative and practical approach dedicated to the problem of school absenteeism and chronic student absenteeism,” said Mayor Cantrell. “Thank you to all of our partners and stakeholders who worked together on this issue, no matter how complex or challenging it may have been for our city. We understand firsthand how our children, our families, and our schools have been impacted by poor attendance, and we want to do everything we can to prepare for the upcoming school year. It really takes a village and the responsibility of the whole community to ensure the academic success of our young people. »

In her remarks, Superintendent NOLA-PS Williams explained that missing just 10% of the school year can have serious consequences in terms of 3rd grade reading levels and high school graduation rates. She affirmed her commitment to continue working with school leaders, refining data collection methods and learning from national best practices to improve school attendance district-wide.

“NOLA-Public Schools is committed to supporting our community of schools as they strive to help our students achieve good attendance,” said Dr. Williams. “We are also committed to solving the problem of school absenteeism in collaboration and in partnership with all stakeholders, including our academics and our families. This is an urgent matter, and there is still work to be done as we understand the barriers to attendance.”

Mayor Cantrell and Dr. Williams were also joined by members of a school truancy task force organized by the Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families (OYF), which included participants from NOLA-PS, from the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), various charter management organizations, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), the New Orleans City Council, the courts, the district attorney and d other non-profit partners.

Emily Wolff, Director of OYF, described the methodology of the School Truancy Task Force which collected available data, mapped current local interventions to manage chronic absenteeism, studied national best practices and convened groups discussion with students. This information was used to generate a set of recommendations, which include the need for the following:

  • A clear, tiered set of interventions to manage unjustified absences that have roles for community stakeholders, school leaders, NOLA-PS, the justice system and NOPD
  • Increased capacity and staff at the district level to make truancy monitoring requests and provide adequate case management services
  • Comprehensive data collection to track student progress through the system
  • In-depth collaboration between the justice system and NOLA-PS
  • An expanded role for NOPD School Resource Officers in supporting truancy monitoring requests
  • Reinstate regular community canvassing events to increase the business community’s understanding of student employment limitations

OYF will continue to work collaboratively with NOLA-PS, OPSB and others to monitor chronic absenteeism rates and direct resources to address this critical challenge.

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