Schools Launch Attendance Campaign

Aliyya Swaby PhotoBrian Henderson had a few suggestions for getting his peers to show up to school more often: changing the day’s start time to 9 a.m. or leaving kids an hour-long “open window for lateness.”

The New Haven Academy junior made those suggestions to community and school leaders who gathered at Celentano Biotech Health and Medical School Tuesday afternoon for the kickoff of the district’s “Attendance Matters” campaign to target students’ chronic absence. Dozens of people brainstormed concrete ways of raising awareness among families and school leaders.

The district’s new department of youth, family and community engagement is spearheading the campaign, as part of its work on youth development and family engagement.

Half of kindergarten students are chronically absent, making them more likely to drop out later, said Gemma Joseph Lumpkin, newly promoted to the district’s chief of youth, family, and community engagement. Younger students regularly miss school for three major reasons: health or trauma-related problems, lack of transportation and lack of understanding about the importance of showing up.

As part of the new campaign, district officials plan to expand community canvassing, going door to door in larger numbers to talk to families about the importance of attending school, said Adriana Joseph, the deputy chief of the department. Calls will go out to parents of students with four or more absences and eventually to parents each time their child is absent from school.

At the school level, dropout specialists will keep track of students regularly missing school. The district is also partnering with the health department to get pediatricians and clinics to address the health factors that keep kids at home, Joseph Lumpkin said.

Nijija-Ife Water, parent of a kindergartener and Elm City Montessori, said her son regularly misses school because he has “severe asthma.” She said parents should be encouraged to make appointments with teachers or principals after school to ensure their kids are on the right track. Sometimes parents need more flexibility and more options for communication, including text messages or emails, she said.

The next attendance canvass will be in mid-October, Joseph said.

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posted by: 1638 on September 17, 2015  3:17pm

Or here’s an idea. Teach people that punctuality matters. show up where you’re supposed to when you’re supposed to. That’s how the world works. Better learn it now or complain that life ain’t fair later.

posted by: FairHavenRes on September 17, 2015  3:46pm

Regarding start times—Research shows that school times should be later in order to fit kids’ biological makeup. Kids have different sleep needs and patterns than adults and do not learn as well under an early school start time.  Elm City Montessori just changed their start time to 9:00 am this year and I could not be more pleased.  While they do provide before-care for some working parents, they realize how important it is for kids to get the sleep (and sleep patterns) they need.  Love it!

posted by: LookOut on September 17, 2015  4:20pm

9:00am?  Open window for lateness?  I struggle to believe that this was seriously proposed.  If we wonder why New Haven students fail in the real world,  we can point to discussions such as these that start kids down the path to becoming wards of the state.

posted by: JohnTulin on September 17, 2015  4:56pm

And then what when these parents make excuses for why they can’t get their kids to school by 9AM?  Move it to 10?  How about just show up when you want, leave when you want, do what you want with no consequences, and then hand out the certificate of completion after 12 years (not far from what NHPS does now anyway).

I get that kids biological clocks don’t fit the 7:30 AM start time, until somethings changes (which it won’t due to bus contracts, traffic, commutes, union and faculty meetings, sports, darkness, etc) - GET TO CLASS.

posted by: 1638 on September 17, 2015  5:22pm


I can’t believe that a kid’s biological clock is keeping him from getting to school. Myself, my kids, my friends kids, all seem to be very successful with ANY start time. Oh, here’s a thought though. My kids still manage to get 8 hours sleep, meaning they get to bed at a decent hour. Maybe what New Haven needs is a curfew.

posted by: state st on September 17, 2015  6:44pm

Being a life long city resident in my late 40s. I have seen the decline in responsible parenting 1st hand.Many of these parents are on the city and state dole of entightlements.And are not responsible for their own actions let alone their kids.There are too many programs that enable bad parenting and irresponsibility .We keep dumming down our own communities instead of having one reach for a goal.
Parents need to be held accountable for their minor children’s and their own actions.

posted by: NHGreen02 on September 17, 2015  7:19pm

Studies show that students don’t perform as well with a 7:30 am as they do with a later start. Given that, why not start later? But also, they need to be in school. For a parent to admit that their child “misses school regularly” is pathetic. Being at home instead of school is not an appropriate response.

posted by: christopher desir on September 17, 2015  9:06pm

This might be the most codedly (or not so codedly) racist comment section I’ve ever seen in th NHI.

posted by: nhfddivision4 on September 17, 2015  10:05pm

@ state st

Said “We keep DUMMING down our own communities instead of having one reach for a goal.”

Apparently this must have started almost 50 years ago.
The irony.

posted by: NHGreen02 on September 18, 2015  4:33am

Ah yes, “dumming” down and “entightlements.” Has anyone ever studied the correlation between quasi-racist screeds and the ability to spell?

posted by: fastdriver on September 18, 2015  7:57am

Please, give me a break. After all these decades of high school kids starting school early, all of a sudden in 2015 it doesn’t fit their biological clock? How about getting to bed early enough at night and getting to school on time in the morning. It’s time to stop coddling kids and making excuses for why they’re not doing well. Get to school and do your job!  If you ever get a real job do you think you could tell your boss oh I can’t come in at 9 o’clock how about I come in at 11 because I can’t get up it doesn’t fit my biological clock! How nuts!

posted by: FairHavenRes on September 18, 2015  8:32am

I’m really surprised and disappointed by the ignorance and racism evident in this comment section.  Yes parents need to be responsible for getting their kids to bed at a reasonable hour so that they can get enough sleep.  That only goes so far, though.  Just because we’ve been doing something less than ideal for 50 years does not mean we should continue doing it.  Anecdotes do not trump research, no matter how many we’d like to trot out here.  Kids have different biological clocks than adults, have different sleep patterns and different sleep needs.  Their schedules should reflect that.  Yes I can get my kid to bed early enough to be up early enough to get to school by 8:00.  So what?  Research shows that he is not ready or able to process much at that time in the morning and that he would do better with a later start time. 

As for getting to school on time, those who are less privileged sometimes have serious disadvantages here.  It’s much harder to get your kid to school on time if you’re a single parent, if you work shift hours, if you have transportation problems or if there are health issues involved.  That’s just a small fraction of the reasons. We should not be making derogatory remarks about a racial or ethnic sector of society but rather should recognize school tardiness and absenteeism as a socioeconomic issue and should address the underlying causes appropriately.

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on September 18, 2015  9:21am

Step 1 - Turn your phone and TV off and lay in bed 9 hours before you have to be at school.

Step 2 - Don’t give in to being “bored” and grab your phone. Lay there.

Step 3 - Let your mind wander, think of your next day, your week, your goals.

Step 4 - Wake up to an alarm with PLENTY of time to get up and ready for school.

Step 5 - Have breakfast at home or the pre-school breakfast.

You are not WELL RESTED and FED. We won’t need to change the hours of your start time and the time window BS won’t matter.

These kids are going to be competing with a LARGE market of students from across CT and the US. Let’s not even begin to try to compare them to countries outside the US.

STOP ENABLING these students to FAIL. This includes the parent population that is leading by example. GET UP, GET A JOB, SHOW YOUR CHILDREN WHAT IS NEEDED TO BE TO BE SUCCESSFUL!

posted by: Noteworthy on September 18, 2015  9:22am

Alarm Clock Notes:

1. Here’s a concept - parent wakes up on time and gets the kid out of bed.

2. Makes the kid eat breakfast so they have brain food.

3. Parent grabs kid by the back of the neck and drags kid to school.

4. No excuses.

5. School calls parent if kid is not in school and attendance is checked at each class. Attendance at subsequent classes is checked against homeroom attendance.

6. Schools, PTAs and parents should focus on student responsibility.

7. Parents who don’t get the kid to school should be forced to go to parenting school.

posted by: NewHaven06513 on September 19, 2015  8:24am

If school in new haven starts at 9am then get ready to buy lights for all the practice fields and play sporting events til 10pm…. There is a reason HS starts early SPORTS! It keeps kids safe and structured between 3-8pm.

posted by: ThinksAgainstTheGrain on September 21, 2015  1:59pm

As a teacher I can absolutely support that the incidence of asthma in urban schools is much higher than the general population. But I can also tell you that the vast majority of my students with airway disorders do not own a peak-flow meter and do not use maintenance medications, such as an inhaled steroid, to keep acute attacks at bay and reduce their reliance on rescue drugs such as albuterol. Nor did any of my students old enough to not need a nebulizer have a spacer.

So the students over-relied on poorly administered rescue drugs, rather than being taught to self-monitor their symptoms, as a person with diabetes would.

This is a tremendous opportunity for a community outreach and awareness program by students in health science schools.

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 21, 2015  5:53pm

Back in the eighties, the attendance policy in my school district was that you would have your grade docked 5 points for each un-excused absence.

Of course, this is a regressive approach, and would especially be considered so in this day and age where even the slightest gain in ‘achievement’ is touted as a breakthrough in administrative policies.