Three ways L.A. schools are trying to get ahead of chronic absenteeism

Rebecca Katz:

Faced with a crisis of chronically absent students last academic year, Los Angeles County education officials have spent the summer training workers to connect with families so children return to class next month.    

Teachers and social workers have been learning to spot mental health issues; and help parents find resources such as daycare so older siblings can return to school.  

Last year, the number of chronically absent students in the LA Unified School District was stunningly high. 

More than half of all L.A. Unified students — over 200,000 kids — were chronically absent last year. Chronically absent students miss more than 9% of the school year.

In the spring, L.A. Unified superintendent Alberto Carvalho pledged to personally follow 30 chronically absent students. Last month at a conference in Orlando, Florida, Carvalho said 10 of the 30 students were at home with no parents. “No adult was caring for them,” he said. 

Chronically absent students have had to stay home with their siblings, get jobs, or simply cannot find transportation to school. Now, Carvalho estimated that tens of thousands of students are not enrolled for school at all this year.

Carvalho told the Los Angeles Times that the chronic absenteeism rates were “exceedingly high.”