The State of New Jersey, Department of Education Performance Report Card defines an absence as being ‘not present’ and includes both excused and unexcused absences. Looking at these numbers we noticed that suspensions and chronic absenteeism is correlated in some schools, while in others the numbers don’t. For example, Schools 4 and 10 show suspension rates of over 25% but yet only 11.9% and 2.4% respectively are chronically absent. This raises some questions. What the data doesn’t tell us is whether or not the kids that are chronically absent are the same ones that are suspended. The district has the ability to track each student, but that information is not available to the public, obviously due to privacy.
This data clearly shows that the numbers for both chronic absenteeism and suspensions are alarming high for the high schools. We continue to advocate for alternatives to suspensions and the ending of zero tolerance, both of which lead to student push-out and fuel the school to prison pipeline. The District has implemented the policy around reducing suspensions but not every school is adhering to it. We believe that “Restorative Justice” and “Positive Behavior Support In Schools” are very effective.
We are encouraging you, as parents, to speak to your principals to see what plans are in place to combat the suspensions and chronic absenteeism problem. What can we do as community members to help our children succeed in school?
Click on link below for the 2015-2016 Absenteeism and Suspension Stats: