Erik Burnett and Troy Hill each average 10 to 15 home visits per week, said Amy Higgins, Elyria Schools spokeswoman. Generally, 10 unexcused absences during a school year trigger a visit. Visits usually come when parents don’t return calls or letters.
Most visits are over attendance, but besides addressing truancy, the liaisons work with parents who may face eviction, lack food or can’t afford utility bills. Since those problems can lead to truancy, Higgins said Burnett and Hill try to get parents help through social service agencies.
Duties also include working with students acclimating to the classroom after disciplinary problems that may have led to a suspension or expulsion. “Ultimately, 100 percent of their job is helping families,” Higgins said.
Al Senkovich, student conduct coordinator, wrote in an email that the goal with truant students is to get them in school, so it would be “ludicrous” to expel them. Senkovich said staff “exhaust all our methods to keep students in school.”
Those methods don’t involve the Lorain County Juvenile Court student-attendance program this school year, due to budget cuts. Higgins said it saved about $35,000. She said work done by the program officer assigned to Elyria was already being done by Burnett and Hill.
Both were hired about 15 years ago. “Since they’re the most intimately involved with our families and our kids, it was a reduction that we felt comfortable making,” Higgins said.
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elyria Schools attendance has been slightly above or below the state attendance goal of 93 percent the last four years.
- 2009-10: 92.3 percent
- 2010-11: 91.4 percent
- 2011-12: 94.3 percent
- 2012-13: 92.5 percent
SOURCE: Elyria Schools