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Absenteeism Essay
Topics: High school / Pages: 3 (589 words) / Published: Sep 12th, 2011

With problems resulting from absenteeism, many schools and communities across the country have suggested solutions that place the responsibility on four components of society: parents, students, schools, and the community. Wisconsin statutes hold parents responsible for their students’ absenteeism and truancy by enforcing fines, requiring counseling, requiring that parents attend school with their children, and requiring meeting with school officials (Wisconsin, 2000). Similarly, Lee & Miltenberger (1996) report that parents who are perceived as contributing to school refusal behavior by providing attention and tangible reinforcers must receive counseling to reverse high absenteeism. Some schools require counseling and home visits for parents whose children are chronically absent (Ford & Sutphen, 1996). Arkansas and Tulsa County (OK) impose fines on parents, and sixteen school districts in Tulsa County participate in an Absence Registration System that prosecutes parents for repeated absenteeism (Gullatt & Lemoine, 1997).
Strict measures have also been employed for students in many school districts. Wisconsin statutes allow for fines, counseling, participation in work programs, home detention, revocation of work permits, and probationary tactics through teen court programs (Wisconsin, 2000). In the case study conducted by Enomoto (1997), stricter adherence to school rules by students is enforced to reduce absenteeism. Ultimately, students are the ones who must accept responsibility for attending school.
Schools also have a role in taking responsibility for student absenteeism and providing sanctions against those who are chronic abusers of attendance policies. Wisconsin statutes require that schools must contact parents by the end of the second day of absence and allow schools to provide detention and additional assignments as deterrents. Additionally, schools in Wisconsin may prohibit participation i extracurricular activities, allow for n lower class participation grades, and revoke student work permits for students with high absenteeism or truancy
(Wisconsin, 2000). In one small community in the Midwest, faculty members formed a committee to reform their attendance policy. The result was stricter enforcement, in-house suspension on Saturday mornings, verification of absences, and stronger efforts to inform parents when students reach 10 days of absence (Kube & Ratigan, 1991).
Absences fell 65% and truancy fell 78% following implementation of stricter policies. Gullatt and Lemoine (1997) cite a Canadian study requiring schools to monitor attendance, track students with high absenteeism, involve students and their parents in guidance and counseling, and provide relevant curriculum as deterrents for absenteeism.
Consistent enforcement of school attendance policies can and does make a difference in reducing high rates of absenteeism, such as adopting uniform reporting procedures from schools within a district or adjoining districts
(Wilson, 1993).
Perhaps the strongest programs for deterring absenteeism are those in which communities take responsibility. There are a variety of examples of such programs across the U.S. Wisconsin allows for municipalities to enact ordinances against truancy (Wisconsin, 2000). Programs such as Oklahoma City’s Truancy Habits Reduced
Increasing Valuable Education (THRIVE), promote picking up truants, holding them until their parents pick them up, and then following up with fines and/or jail time for non-compliance. Dropout rates, directly related to chronic absenteeism, have decreased from 13.9% to 11.8% after the implementation of this program (Baldauf, 1999). As a result of consistent prosecuting for absenteeism and truancy and advocating high school diplomas and resumes for entry-level positions in such businesses as McDonald’s, Tulsa County (OK) has reduced dropout rates by 45% and day-time crimes have been reduced by 22% (Baldauf, 1999). Police officers patrol the Bronx (NY), picking up truants, registering them for later tracking of offenses, and returning them to school (Gullatt & Lemoine, 1997).

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