Post-break absences addressed

Wednesday, January 9th 2008, 10:33 am
By: News 9

By Doug Warner, NEWS 9

Two years ago, Capitol Hill started noticing a growing trend. A number of students were going away for the summer and winter breaks and not returning back to school on time. This local high school is now crossing both cultural and language barriers to ensure students get back to school in time and get enough schooling to move to the next grade.

"In the past, they would mainly just leave and show back up; and we didn't know what's happened," said Capitol Hill principal Donna Lay.

Capitol Hill is comprised of 60 percent Hispanic students. School officials found many of the Hispanic students were going south of the border to visit family members and even, sometimes, to work.

The two-week winter break became a four- and five-week break for many of these Hispanic students. The late-returners were behind their classmates and in danger of being left behind a grade.

"It does present a challenge when students come back late, because by state law they can only miss a certain number of days and still get credit," said Lay.

Teachers also found the late returners weren't the only ones suffering.  Instructors were having to go back and re-teach material, which slowed the learning pace of the entire class.

The high school has stepped up and done more than just put the obvious reminders in front of the school.

"We have to use several different ways to get the message out," she said.

The school had friendly automative phone calls go out last week, in both English and Spanish. And principal Lay said the parents have also stepped in to help. 

"I can think of five families who came in and told us they needed to go to Mexico and were trying to see if the school would work with them," said the principal.

Two additional programs are also in place to ensure students who are missing some days, make it to graduation. The Credit Recovery Program and Absence Recovery Program both work to help students make up the hours and schoolwork they missed.

Other schools like Roosevelt and Moon Middle schools also are suffering the same fate as Capitol Hill.