Truancy on CPS headcount day could cost schools

September 9, 2013 (CHICAGO)

On Monday, Chicago Public Schools conducted its 10-day enrollment, or head count, which is an attendance record that's important to the district's school funding. However, some CPS students decided to take the day off anyway.

Arnold, 15, said he attends Manley High School, but had a doctor's appointment Monday morning. On Monday afternoon he was playing dice on near the intersection of Madison and Lavergne with friends.

"I came back from the doctor at like around 12 p.m.," Arnold said. "So, ain't no sense in going to school. It's a half a day, ain't no sense in going back."

Isaiah, 17, who said he, too, is registered at Manley, was also out of class. He said it's the third time he's missed class in two weeks.

A third student, Kenjuan, who goes to Banner West Alternative high school, said he just needed the day off.

"Hang on the block, go to the park," Kenjuan said.

An unexcused absence from a CPS-funded school on Monday will affect how much money that school gets. Parent Larry Graves said seeing truants around the neighborhood on school days isn't unusual.

"It's the West Side of Chicago man, poverty, everybody's broke. You've got to do what you've got to do to survive," Larry Graves, parent, said. Graves didn't seem concerned that the truancy now could be at the cost of his toddler's education later.

"I'm going to listen and go to school and be a doctor," Brendan Graves, 2, said.

CPS does not have any "truant officers" to hunt down and return kids to school. A spokeswoman said the district has three "student outreach engagement centers" to coordinate such efforts, but no people on the streets.

She also said Chicagoans who see a child not in school, can call 3-1-1 to report him or her.

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