NOVEMBER 27, 2010, 10:31 A.M. ET
NY study says punishment doesn't solve absenteeism
ALBANY, N.Y. — A report commissioned by the state's Office of Children and Family Services says hauling parents into family court is not the best way to combat a rising tide of kids who chronically miss school.
In New York City, "chronic absenteeism" — when a student misses at least 20 of the 180 days in a school year — afflicts 40 percent of high school students and educators currently refer cases to social services for neglect.
"I've talked to a lot of principals on this," said Kim Nauer, who researched the city's statistics. "Schools call in these child protective services reports because they're frustrated with the families and their inability to get these kids to school."
Under New York law, chronic school absence is a trigger for complaints to the Office of Children and Family Services. Referrals can lead to family court, foster care or probation-like PINS supervision.
Professor Robert Balfanz, at Johns Hopkins University, said his research has shown that about half the students just decide to skip school, a quarter are avoiding something negative such as a bully or uncomfortable class, and another quarter stay out for life issues like work or baby sitting.
Now, a new study by the Vera Institute of Justice — commissioned by the state office of Children and Family Services — backs up the agency's belief that going after parents for educational neglect isn't effective. The report says chronic absenteeism seldom means teens are abused or neglected at home but instead suggests they stay out for other reasons and schools need to find ways to re-engage them.
Caseworkers reported that the stigma and adversarial nature of investigations can make parents more resistant to help*, analyst Jessica Gunderson wrote. FULL STORY
*No shit Sherlock. Parents had all their authority taken away 35 years ago. So what are they supposed to do about it?