The Lansing Public School District is beginning the second week of what’s already become a historic academic year. Educators are watching for a new twist on an old problem: truancy.
WKAR’s Kevin Lavery spoke with truancy specialist Bryan Crenshaw and Kyron Harvell, who runs a new program called Parent University.
Parent University is a program designed to create a positive culture and climate by collaborating with parents to provide enrichment courses and access to community resources. On Tuesday night, we're very fortunate to have Brian Crenshaw talk to parents about the importance of attendance and how to provide for students who may be truant.
In mid-March, when the quarantine was imposed, we started to see that transition to online classes. Did the Lansing schools have any issues then with truancy? Did you see students who just kind of checked out and said, ‘you can't make me go to school?’ nd are you concerned that that could happen again this year?
There have been studies nationwide that have shown individuals did not progress at the at the manner that they should have progressed during that 30 week period from March 13 to the end of the school year. But we’re hoping to stem the tide to (help them) do what they need to do and get them engaged in their academic work.
What would you normally do as a truancy officer if you had a student who habitually did not show up for class?
First, we need to engage with the parents to find out what exactly is going on. Obviously, we do have working families, we do have parents who are not in the home when the student is there. But we will try to engage with the parents and get them involved and let them set the tone for the student. If that doesn't work, then we may have to have a conversation with the student and let them know what our expectations are, and what the consequences of not meeting those expectations are. We’re try to alleviate any barriers that they may be having and try to help them maximize their potential.
In August, the Boston Globe published an article that talked about how some teachers were calling police and sometimes child protective services on parents whose children were chronically truant to their online classes. How does Lansing avoid going down that road?
Obviously, we want to work with our families first and find out what is going on. That’s our first and foremost opportunity before we take that drastic action of a CPS referral or anything else, but we need to find out what is going on in the home before we take that action. We want to work with our families, not work against our families.