Robertson High School has a new computer program that is supposed to give parents immediate access to their children’s grades and attendance records.
However, school board members were told this week about at least one student who slipped through the cracks, missing 25 days without her parents being notified.
Superintendent Pete Campos asked Principal Richard Lopez to explain how parents are contacted when students are absent. That question came after a parent spoke to the board, saying he had found out about his daughter’s absences only that day and that was only because his daughter had gotten into some other kind of difficulty.
Lopez explained that the new system would hopefully come online after teacher training, which could be within the next two weeks.
“Parents could enter their son’s or daughter’s name and pull up absences and grades that their children have in any class,” he said.
Campos said discussions have been ongoing through the years on ways to curtail absenteeism throughout the district.
“Now we have an issue we need to deal with. The unfortunate aspect is this parent had not been notified, and we need to rectify that,” he said.
Lopez said before the automated dialer could call parents notifying them of absences, the information had to be uploaded.
“That’s 615 inputs that have to be uploaded. The automated dialer is working at this time and is calling, but my staff needs to be held accountable for calling parents after a certain number of absences and rest assured that will be addressed,” Lopez said.
Explanations by Campos and Lopez about the new computer system, automated dialer and other policies surrounding truancy only seemed to anger school board members more, especially board member Patrick Romero, who said, “I’m really upset about this.” He said truancy officers have to go out and knock on doors and get kids into school.
Romero also said that he was under the impression that two truancy officers had been hired at the beginning of the school year.
“The blame also falls on this board for not following up on that. We have money for some things, but not for important things?” he said.
Board vice president Ramon “Swoops” Montao said, “It’s all of our jobs to ensure our kids are in school and to ensure that parents are being called. We can say we have automated systems calling, we can say we sent letters, but when we hear parents come and tell us, they haven’t been called or talked to, it bothers me.”
Campos said the district is working hard to fill the vacant truancy officer position and persists in every possible way to resolve the issue. He told the board he had met early that morning in Santa Fe with state Public Education Department official Don Moya asking for more money to hire two people. He said the voices of the board were being heard.