Officials report truancy on the rise

School and law enforcement officials say they’ve seen a rise in truancy, since the pandemic has forced classes to be taught via remote learning
Published: Dec. 10, 2020 at 7:12 PM EST
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Truancy numbers are up across The County, since schools have had to rely more on remote learning. Kathy McCarty speaks with officials and has more on the issue.

Officials have seen an increase in the number of students not attending classes, since the start of the pandemic, especially when education goes remote.

“That’s been my - my - my fear and the reason I really have tried to hold on to in-person learning for as long as we can, because the best learning is in-person learning - the connection between the student and the teacher. It can happen remotely, but I think it’s much more difficult,” says Ben Greenlaw, Superintendent of MSAD 1 in Presque Isle.

When students are repeatedly absent, schools send written notice to parents that attending school is required by law. Failure to comply can result in schools turning the matter over to law enforcement.

“It’s those ones that, you know, where they might have been in schools since August and they’ve gone three times or logged on three times. I mean, we’re talking they’re missing a lot of school. But we have seen quite a rise in that, because the Covid and people, you know, studying remotely or taking classes remotely,” says Chief Laurie Kelly of the Presque Isle Police Department.

The problem covers the spectrum, from larger schools like Presque Isle’s, to smaller ones as in Washburn.

“I think the - the numbers are up, not a lot, but we do have a few more kids - like you said, they’re not logging on. Now that they’re remote and their attendance is taken by them logging on to the Google Classroom with the live sessions, there are a few more. So I would say it’s increased, you know, not dramatically, but it’s up - it’s up a bit from where it would be normally,” says Larry Worcester, Superintendent of MSAD 45 in Washburn.

Lt. Jamie Pelletier is the Resource Officer for the Madawaska School District. With many parents working, he says kids are home unsupervised, leading to increased truancy.

“I’m going out to homes to visit parents and finding out why the kids aren’t coming to school or why they’re enrolled in the remote learning program and not doing their work, you know, and that generates a DHHS referral,” says Lt. Jamie Pelletier, of the Madawaska Police Department, who also serves as Resource Officer for the Madawaska School District.

Pelletier says, as a parent, he understands how difficult it is to have a child involved in remote learning, but it’s ultimately up to the parents to see their child attends classes as required by law. If they don’t, they may find themselves in court. Kathy McCarty, NewsSource 8

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