Detroit Public Schools is implementing bold new changes to its Attendance Policy for the 2013-2014 academic year to ensure students are in school, on time, every day and prepared to learn.
Through a collaboration with the district’s Office of Academics, the DPS Office of General Counsel, State Department of Human Services, and Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, the new Attendance Policy introduces a 3-6-9 Approach that calls for immediate intervention upon three unexcused absences.
Three (3) instances of unexcused tardiness, of more than 15 minutes after the start of class, are equivalent to one unexcused absence. Upon three (3) unexcused absences, a phone call will be made to the student’s home and an attendance agent will be notified. Upon the occurrence of a sixth (6) unexcused absence, the student will be referred to an attendance agent for intervention strategies, which may include home visits by the state Department of Human Services. Any DPS student having more than nine (9) unexcused absences per school year will face a truancy referral to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office for additional intervention.
The Attendance Policy also defines what is deemed as “excused,” the academic penalties of poor attendance, and attendance information specific to each grade level. Parents will begin receiving handbooks this month with the new strict enforcements.
The launch of the new Attendance Policy falls under the district’s five-year Strategic Plan to initiate new methods to better serve the needs of students and families. Entitled, “Neighborhood-Centered, Quality Schools,” the plan involves 12 major goals focused on three central themes: Starting earlier and working longer, working harder and working smarter, joining together and expecting more.
“As a district, we cannot stress enough to parents and students the importance of good attendance—being in school regularly and prepared to learn,” said Karen Ridgeway, Superintendent of Academics. “Through our new Strategic Plan, we’ve renewed our commitment to supporting the needs of all families by listening closely to what our parents have said is necessary in order for their children to have a successful, well-rounded educational experience. But in order to truly achieve our mission to provide a high-quality education to all students, we need help from our parents in ensuring students are at school on time, every single day.”
Additional initiatives being implemented this school year as part of the Strategic Plan include Universal Pre-Kindergarten for eligible students, Arts/Music enrichment for all elementary-middle school students, Enhanced Safety Patrols, new Community Schools serving as hubs of their neighborhoods, a new Parent University, Career Academies, better Customer Service, and a new Code of Conduct Policy— all centered on serving the needs of DPS students.
The new Attendance Policy aims to provide a standardized and consistent district-wide policy for better enforcement; increased accountability among Students, Parents, Staff and Support Agencies; and addresses changes in Michigan Compulsory Attendance Laws and Department of Human Services policies affecting family aid eligibility standards.
As stated in the District’s Strategic Plan, DPS emphasizes the value of regular attendance in enabling students to benefit from its educational programs. Michigan law places responsibility on students to attend school and on parents or guardians to send their children to school on a daily basis. Regular and punctual attendance is very important to the student’s scholastic achievement and the student’s participation in class contributes to the education of others. Frequent absences and tardiness for any reason adversely affect the student’s schoolwork, diminish a student’s educational experiences and are disruptive to other students, classes, teachers and the entire school community.
DPS is also implementing a district-wide competition to increase attendance. Schools with the highest overall attendance rates will be recognized monthly during a celebratory event.