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Education

One in six Michigan students are chronically absent from school

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Flickr | Matthew Logelin
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattlogelin/

With one in six Michigan students missing 18 days or more in a school year, schools are searching for ways to keep kids in the classroom.

Michigan classrooms are looking pretty empty these days. A new study published by University of Michigan reports one in every six students across the state are chronically absent. The report defines being “chronically absent” as missing at least ten percent of school days.

Matt Poli is a homeless student advocate and principal at the alternative school in Alpena. He said low-income students are disproportionately affected by chronic absenteeism.

“You know, income does have a definite correlation as it relates to absenteeism, though some folks don’t say that,” he said, “49 percent of the students in the state are at a social and economic disadvantage. When you look at a number like that, that should really be staggering for anybody.”

Vicki Denstaedt is a homeless student grant coordinator for Alpena Public Schools. She said rural schools face unique challenges that contribute to absenteeism.

“We’re such a rural area up in the north, some of our problems up here are much different than down state where your populus is much larger,” she said, “Just the transportation issue alone is huge when trying to get kids to school.”

Denstaedt said the best thing schools can do when facing a chronically absent student is to communicate with the family. She said once the school learns what keeps the student from getting to school, they can start providing resources.