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Connecticut School Attendance Woes

School Attendance Awareness Month kicks-off in September and in Connecticut there is special emphasis in Hartford Public Schools where six-in-10 students are chronically absent from class. Credit: woodleywonderworks via wiki commons.
School Attendance Awareness Month kicks-off in September and in Connecticut there is special emphasis in Hartford Public Schools where six-in-10 students are chronically absent from class. Credit: woodleywonderworks via wiki commons.
August 31, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. – Nationwide, nearly one in 10 students is chronically absent from school, but as School Attendance Awareness month kicks off tomorrow, some Connecticut districts are coping with much higher absentee rates.

Mario Flores is director of school climate and culture for Hartford Public Schools and he says the biggest attendance problems are with the youngest students, Pre-K and kindergarten, and the oldest - seniors.

"We're seeing really high rates, especially in our community and neighborhood schools we're looking at rates of over 60 percent," says Flores. "For kids that are chronically absent-missing 10 or more days of enrollment."

Flores says a host of factors contribute to high absenteeism including medical needs, bad weather, poverty and crime. He says Hartford Public Schools is working with United Way in offering school attendance awareness activities throughout the month of September.

Florez says high rates of poverty and neighborhood crime put downward pressure on attendance in cities like Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven.

"Kids don't have utilities, they don't have food, then you have poverty leads to crime," says Florez. "So, kids are actually walking through areas of really, really high violence, so there's a fear component as well. So, kids are afraid to walk to school at times."

Florez says there were eight snow days in Hartford last year. He says the days before and after also produce spikes in absenteeism especially for kids who walk to school and who may not have the proper coats, gloves and hats to stay warm.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT