State lawmakers are exploring ways to reduce chronic absenteeism in Indiana schools, which could include spreading existing programs to more schools around the state.
In a recent survey of Indiana school superintendents, about 30 percent of school corporations use court-assisted resolution programs to reduce absenteeism.
Rebecca Humphrey oversees one such program in Tippecanoe County. Humphrey says a partnership between local school corporations and the county court system helps divert kids away from delinquency courts by working with parents and students on an individual basis to figure out why they’re absent.
“Sometimes it can be easy as, ‘We don’t have an alarm clock or funds for an alarm clock and we didn’t want to tell school officials that.’ Sometimes it can be as difficult as transportation or, ‘My family works 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and there is no one to get the child up to school,'” she says.
Humphrey says more than 75 percent of cases referred to the program did not advance to the delinquency system. State Senator Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, says the legislature should devise a way to spread such programs while still allowing for local flexibility.
“Maybe we could give them a reward, possibly in the school funding, he says. “You know, if you have this type of diversion program, you get an extra so much money, several thousand dollars or something for doing a program like this.”
Kruse says under such a reward system, he would want to use a formula that takes into account how many students are in the program and what percent graduate after completing it.