Community leaders address Buffalo’s attendance crisis

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – For years student attendance rates in the Buffalo Public School District have been an issue. Nearly a third of the students were chronically absent last year. Those students missed 10% or more of the school year.

“It varies throughout different grades and among different schools but needless to say the number is very high. It’s certainly unacceptably high and we need to work on that,” said Dr. Will Keresztes, the Chief of Student Support for the Buffalo Public Schools.

On Saturday, members of the district, Mayor Byron Brown and community groups gathered to raise awareness about attending school and finding a solution to the attendance crisis.

“Chronic absenteeism certainly leads to the achievement gap so my message to parents is bring your children to school. It’s critically important,” said Mayor Byron Brown (D) Buffalo.

Members of Citizen Action have been going door to door in Buffalo asking parents what difficulties they have getting their child to school. There goal is to get to the root of the cause of absenteeism.

“We are going to find what are the worst problems and find solutions to them and present that to the school so that they can make the changes,” said Sue Gillick the Vice President of the Board for Citizen Action.

Many parents agree this is a community issue. They hope to set an example themselves and empower others. Angelica River, a mother of two students in the Buffalo School District said, “I understand the struggle. I work full time and I have two little ones. So I understand that n the morning I have to figure out a work schedule so that I can get my kids to school.”

“We want to work together with parents. We want to make sure that the school district is responsive and is providing the needed services so the barriers that parents face can be reduced,” said Dr. Keresztes.

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