DETROIT — The Detroit Public Schools district announced plans Friday to step up efforts to improve attendance and will work with prosecutors on cases involving students with many unexcused absences.
"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," Karen Ridgeway, Superintendent of Academics, said in a statement.
Under the policy, called the "3-6-9 Approach," if a student arrives more than 15 minutes after the start of class three times, that will equal one unexcused absence. After three unexcused absences, a phone call will be made to the student's home and an attendance agent will be notified.
With the sixth unexcused absence, the student will be referred to an attendance agent and intervention may include home visits by the state Department of Human Services. More than nine per school year will bring a truancy referral to Wayne County prosecutors.
In Michigan, parents can face fines or jail time if children don't go to school. The Wayne County prosecutor's office said possible punishment for parents is an option when elementary-age children miss school, but efforts are more focused on getting kids to classes.
Bob Heimbuch, head of the prosecutor's juvenile unit, said his office has worked with the school district with a special attention to truancy cases for the last six or seven years. He said middle school or high school students with truancy cases referred to the courts can end up on probation, with a curfew or ordered to perform community service.
As part of the effort to boost attendance, the district plans to implement a district-wide competition to increase attendance. Schools with the highest overall attendance rates will be recognized monthly.