Buffalo School Board set to consider steps to tackle chronic absenteeism

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Members of the Buffalo School Board are set to consider a controversial move meant to crack down on ongoing attendance problems in the district when they meet Wednesday evening.

School Board member Carl Paladino has proposed a measure that would hold parents criminally responsible for failing to make sure their children attend school.

Attendance is a big issue in the Buffalo Public School district, where as many as one in three high schoolers missed more than 20 percent of the school year last year, according to a Buffalo News analysis.

That can have a big impact on academic performance. As Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash told News 4 as he was getting ready for the start of this school year, students can’t learn what teachers are teaching if they’re not in the classroom to learn it.

Now, Paladino is urging his fellow school board members to approve a resolution that would crack down on that problem. He wants teachers and principals to keep individual case files on students and discipline chronically absent students. In the most severe cases, he says he wants charges to be filed with the Buffalo Police Department and/or Child Protective Services against parents who are found to be at fault for failing to make sure their children attend class.

Paladino is also asking for changes to the way attendance-taking is handled in the district to ensure records are more accurate. The resolution he filed calls for a requirement that teachers actually take attendance daily, and for the system to change so that a student will be marked as absent unless he or she is actually marked as present by the teacher. Right now, a student is presumed to be present unless he or she is actually marked absent by a teacher.

The Buffalo School Board is scheduled to meet at the Academy for Visual and Performing Arts on Masten Avenue at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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