Reshaping the attendance policy at city schools

Nov 11, 2015

The Buffalo Public School District is rolling out a proposed attendance plan.  A community meeting was held Tuesday evening at the Merriweather Library where the district was seeking public input  its attendance policy. WBFO's Eileen Buckley sat down with the district's director of Student Support Services at his City Hall office to learn how the plan could improve attendance.

Heath Frisch, Director of Student Support Services for the Buffalo Public School District.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"Primarily what this plan is a graduated approach or a tiered approach to improving attendance," said Heath Frisch. He tells WBFO News looking at a new solution from the district's past attendance policy -- a proposed system would rely on data -- with an early warning indicator system to track why a student is not attending classes.

"We'll be looking at kids transition through higher levels of absenteeism and putting interventions and supports in place when we identify that at the on-set," said Frisch. "I'm hoping we can identify these trends as they occur."

One of the signs inside a Buffalo School District City Hall office.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"What are the teachers telling you about attendance,?" asked Buckley.

"I know that teachers are taking attendance. I think we need to provide more assistance to folks at the school level, so something like what the district's looking at which are these electronic measures to ensure attendance to ensure attendance is taken is going to be quite valuable and I know that there are teachers that are very excited to have that conversation continue," replied Frisch. 

The District is also looking at engaging curriculum during the day time, to see what courses students are interested in taking. 

Frisch said after-school programs are could also entice students to come to school. "If we have very interest-based after-school programming, kids will come in the day and spend the entire day there just to participate in the after-school program," stated Frisch.

WBFO asked Frisch if the district would consider adding more truancy officers, like the district once had to monitor students skipping school.

"That is a discussion that we'll be starting very soon with the local law enforcement authorities on how can we work together to build a system, like what was in the past," responded Frisch.