According to new statistics from the Alabama State Department of Education, 23.25% of Birmingham City Schools students are chronically absent, and some schools have chronic absenteeism rates above 50%.
In October, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin told the Birmingham City Council that unexcused absences in Birmingham City Schools have been excessive this year. He said that 50% of all third-graders in Birmingham City Schools are considered truant, which means a student has seven or more unexcused absences.
Woodfin said he contacted Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr’s office to hold parents accountable for their truant children. According to Alabama law, most children between the ages of six and 17 are required to attend school. Legally, violators of this law can receive a misdemeanor charge with a fine of up to $100 and 90 days of hard labor.
However, Carr later told 1819 News that he had not heard from Woodfin and talked to us about what his office was doing to combat the issue.
Per the U.S. Department of Education, a student is chronically absent when he or she misses at least 15 days of school in a given year.
According to the state education department’s latest school report card, Birmingham City School’s chronic absenteeism rate exceeds the state average by almost 6%. It also exceeds most of the other largest school systems in the state, except for Montgomery County (26.33%) and Mobile County (31.54%).
Six Birmingham City School schools had chronic absenteeism rates above 40%, including Wenorah High School, Hudson K-8 School, Smith Middle School, Wilkerson Middle School, Jackson-Olin High School and Woodlawn High School. Wilkerson and Jackson-Olin exceeded 50%. Woodlawn had the highest rate of chronic absenteeism at 60.71%.
1819 News reached out to Birmingham City School in November to inquire about the truancy problem but did not receive a response.
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