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Lahaina principals: Don’t skip school! Every day counts!

By Staff | Sep 7, 2017

LAHAINA – Lahaina public school principals are getting the word out that September is Attendance Awareness Month. Their goal for the schools in Lahaina is to see attendance increase, because it has a direct impact on grades, graduation rates and future college attendance.

“As a community, we ask for everyone’s support in reinforcing the importance of school attendance because EVERY DAY COUNTS,” noted Principals Lynn Kaho’ohalahala of Lahainaluna High School, Stacy Bookland of Lahaina Intermediate, Dr. Rebecca Winkie of Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary School and Steve Franz of King Kamehameha III Elementary School in a press release last week.

The chronic absenteeism rate is defined in Hawaii as 15 or more absences in an academic year. According to the educators, even one absence a month can put a child in danger of falling behind.

Hawaii News Now reported in 2016 that nearly one in five Hawaii public high school students missed 15 days or more last school year.

“Lahaina schools are making a push this year to reduce absences. We want to give our keiki a clear message and common goal: no matter which school they go to, EVERY DAY COUNTS,” the principals wrote.

“As a community, we CAN do better. For the 2017-2018 school year, we want to ramp up support for students in danger of being chronically absent. Personal phone calls, letters, parent support meetings and Second Chance classes are all part of the plan to stop absenteeism before it gets to the danger point. We as a community need to pull together and see that students are in school during school hours.”

Parents, guardians and students should consider these points:

Attendance matters for doing well in school and life, starting in kindergarten and even in pre-kindergarten.

Absences can add up before you know it. Studies have shown students absent two days in the first month of school averaged two days absent each month, and over the year were absent an average of ten days.

Poor attendance is not just about unexcused absences or children willfully skipping school – excused absences can affect performance, too. One absence becomes a day-and-a-half of missing school because they’re out for a day, and when they come back, they have to attempt to catch up to where the class is. This can also slow down instruction for other students.

Research shows missing school impacts learning. Students who are chronically absent in elementary school are statistically less likely to be proficient in math and reading, and they also are more likely to eventually drop out of high school and become involved in the juvenile justice system.

“As a parent, guardian, auntie or tutu, you are responsible for making sure your child develops the habit of regular attendance. If you are facing tough challenges related to access to healthcare, unstable housing, poor transportation or lack of food, support from the school and community is available,” the community message stated.

The Hawaii State Compulsory School Attendance Law states that “unless excluded from school or exempted from attendance, all children who will have arrived at the age of at least five years on or before July 31 of the school year, and who will not have arrived at the age of 18 years, by Jan. 1 of any school year, shall attend either a public or private school for, and during, the school year, and any parent, guardian, or other person having the responsibility for, or care of, a child whose attendance at school is obligatory, shall send the child to either a public or private school.” Following this law prevents the court system’s involvement.