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Attendance Matters workshop available for parents of students who miss days of school

During the Marengo County Board of Education meeting on Thursday, August 26, Instructional Leader Cathy Seale announced that a new workshop for parents of students who are tardy or have unexcused absences will soon be available.

The county has come up with an Attendance Matters workshop for parents who get repeat calls about their children being tardy, late to class, checking out, checking in late, or too many unexcused absences. There is a court system in the district that tries to handle students who fall under one of the aforementioned categories. The first and second times result in a call to the parent, the third time is a call and a letter sent to the parents. The fifth time, parents have to go to the school to have a meeting with the principal and the Attendance Officer in a truancy conference. If the unexcused absences continue, there will be a complaint on the seventh unexcused absence.

The focus of the workshop is to help parents understand the importance of attendance. The workshop will be a monthly ZOOM that will be set up at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month. The length of the ZOOM meeting will be on the school’s website and the meeting will be district wide.

Seale will lead the first meeting with the attendance officers and the presentation will be four slides detailing the research on what happens when students miss several consecutive days of school, and the consequences. The presentation will also include resources for parents on who to call if a student will be late to class or will miss a day.

If parents attend, the student will receive a certificate and a treat, and the school will remove one of the unexcused absences. Attending the workshops will also keep parents from having to attend court over their child’s attendance.

“We’re just trying to change behavior right now. We need to help them understand the importance of coming to school,” said Seale. “I get that a student may get COVID-19 or be a close contact. But at some point, we have to start holding people accountable.”