Group goes door-to-door checking on Baltimore students absent from school

One Baltimore group is working with schools to lift barriers keeping students from maintaining their education.

The idea is to find out what is going on in a student’s life that’s preventing them from thriving and going to school.

Aaris Johnson works for Concentric Educational Solutions. He went door-to-door Thursday with the help of a list from Henderson-Hopkins Elementary School. He checked in on students who already missed school during the first week of classes.

On Thursday’s run, he learned that no one on his list was still living at the addresses he checked. That’s something he runs into frequently. But often, there are real barriers keeping kids from attending.

“For the first week, typically, we have uniform issues. (They) can’t afford to go out and buy the uniform. We have families who may have moved and families who move a lot,” Johnson said.

Concentric Educational Solutions CEO David Heiber said last year in Baltimore City, they did 22,000 home visits.

Henderson-Hopkins principal Peter Kannam said he has a team that focuses on attendance every day.

“We pull reports, we see who’s absent, and they help us make phone calls. As you saw, if there are students who aren’t showing up, we go visit their homes to reinforce that we need every student on time every day,” Kannam said.

Now that they know the missing students and their families were not at those addresses, the school can try to figure out where they are.

“Last year, 32% of our population was absent more than 18 days, and we have to do better,” Kannam said.

Once Concentric Educational Solutions and the school identify those barriers keeping students away, they can help find what they need, whether it’s transportation, uniforms or housing.

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