Seeking Out ‘No Shows’ Back To School

It begins with a phone call. Volunteers are reaching out to students who have not returned to school this year. The annual outreach effort by HISD ends with volunteers paying a visit to the homes of students to encourage them to graduate.

Phone call: “…okee, dokee Thank you very much!”

School has been in session in the HISD for a week now, with the district counting over 197,000 before the Labor Day holiday. But even as more students arrive to campus after the last holiday of the summer, there are those who have decided not to return to class. That put dozens of volunteers, like Earl McIntyre, calling the homes of those students.

“These students we have is what we consider no-shows. So we’re gonna call them, and try to get as much information as we can by the contact person. And from there, if we can’t get any information, we’re gonna have a stack of people that we’re going to go out and visit on Saturday to find out the status of these students that have not enrolled in school.”

He says volunteers are helping to determine why the students are not in class.

“My whole game plan is to work on this, finish as I can today, and then Thursday we’re gonna do the mapping of the students. And so when I take these back to the schools mapped out, then on Saturday the the volunteers and employees of HISD will get together, and they’ll go out and do home visits on these students on Saturday morning.”

Jesse Marche is program coordinator for Grads within Reach, which used to be known as Reach out to Dropouts. He says reasons students don’t finish usually have to do with family.

“They’re unfortunate situation where the student must stay home for some type of family support. There are some social obstacles, and there are some obstacles and possibly a student has come into a problem, and unfortunately, they’ve had to stay home to help with the family issues.”

Other reasons vary, like the student moved to another district, or another city altogether, but Marche says truancy is not an issue this early in the year.

“With the September 8th walk and hoping to avoid that situation. But of course, there are some situations where the parents are contributing. Unfortunately, we can refer those to the courts, and have the parents and the students appear in court and discuss this with the judge. And eventually, have the courts assist with the student returning back to school.”

Since HISD funds schools based on their number of students, it needs to grow by more than 5,000 students to reach last year’s official enrollment.

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