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MPUSD launches campaign to reduce school absence rates

Marina Absences

MARINA, Calif. (KION) Three schools in Marina faced some of the highest absence rates in the area. Monterey Peninsula Unified School District officials say they're addressing and working to reduce absences through an awareness campaign.

The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Superintendent, PK Diffenbaugh, says a survey was sent out to families to find out why they were missing school, in which families explained different reasons.

“Transportation issues,  housing insecurity is a huge issue, there’s been some health problems, other problems in terms of work, the parent needing the older sibling to stay with a younger sibling,” says Diffenbaugh.

MPUSD officials say the wheels towards change are already in motion. A task force is sending out messages an effort to gather stakeholders and community leaders to help launch their efforts throughout the next school year.

Diffenbaugh explains a large percentage of students missed 15 or more days during the 2018-2019 year. As of now, no data is shown for the 2020-2021 year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The schools that saw the highest absentee rates are Olson, Marina Vista and Crumpton Elementary Schools.

District officials say their goal is obtain things like bus passes, connect families with social service organizations and addressing housing and food insecurity.

“Really for our approach, it’s identifying for each family what some of those needs are and be able to respond for those specific needs and not make assumptions for every family," says Donnie Everett, Assistant Superintendent for the Multi-tiered Systems of Support.

But some say it's also up to parents to help each other when possible.

“Car pooling is a good thing, we did a lot of carpooling with my kids if you can’t get rides to school," says Monterey County Resident and mother, Julie Webb.

Superintendent Diffenbaugh explains that while students are not held back as a result of absences, there are some impacts for the students' educational future to keep in mind.

“In terms of graduation, in terms of college eligibility, in terms of drop out rates, obviously at the high school level it makes it harder to  pass your classes  and earn your credits and graduation but the research really doesn’t not support holding kids back," says Diffenbaugh.

Central Coast / Education / Monterey / Monterey County

Jocelyn Ortega

Jocelyn Ortega is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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