EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Proposed law addresses chronic absenteeism in schools

Feb 21, 2024, 8:58 AM | Updated: 9:00 am

Chronic absenteeism, classroom...

A new bill addresses chronic absenteeism. The entrance to a first grade classroom is pictured at Hawthorne Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers proposed a bill to find a way better way to address students who demonstrate chronic absenteeism.

The bill’s sponsor Sen. Michael Kennedy, R-Salt Lake City described it as an option for parents and teachers to work together to find a solution for the student.

“This bill is an effort to thread the needle between an overarching policy that forces a certain approach,” said Kennedy.

According to Kennedy, post-pandemic teachers see the effect that being out of the classroom has on attendance today.

“If the parent and the teacher in collaboration recognize [the] unique, individual child has an absenteeism issue, that they will in writing agree to [a] program,” said Kennedy.

The plan is not one-size-fits-all. It is meant to be customized for each situation.

Additionally, the bill aims to empower teachers and parents to work together.

Nicholeen Peck with Worldwide Organization for Women supports the legislation. She said school avoidance issues are being recognized more recently by therapists.

She hopes the bill can be a step in the right direction for students who struggle with chronic absenteeism.

“I just love the idea of bringing the parents into the conversation,” said Peck.

The House voted unanimously to move the bill forward. 

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Proposed law addresses chronic absenteeism in schools