LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner marks 'Attendance Matters Day' with visits to students' homes

WATTS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The new school year started a few weeks ago for the Los Angeles Unified School District, but some kids are not showing up for class.

School officials are trying to change that by visiting the homes of those students.

The top educator in LAUSD, Superintendent Austin Beutner, went door-to-door Friday on "Attendance Matters Day," meeting with families who have children struggling to attend class.

"If they're not in school, they're not going to learn, and I know as someone from this community the way out is through education," David Starr Jordan High School principal Carlos Montes said.

"It's not as easy as get them there, sit them down," Montes said. "There are other things at play, and it's our job to find out what those needs are and to better address them."

Of the 600,000 students attending Los Angeles Unified schools, roughly 70,000 were considered chronically absent last school year. That means they missed 16 days or more of school.

Beutner met with father Juan Mendoza, whose daughter is often late to school.

"He gets it. He wants her to be there," Beutner said. "He's committed as we are to making sure she builds that foundation for success in the future."

"Keep on doing good in school, try not to be late, and that's it," Mendoza said.

Beutner said Mendoza's daughter is bright and independent.

"The challenge is we don't try to fit her into this square box and say, 'One size fits all.' That's not how it works for many, many students," Beutner said.

District officials said the attendance numbers from last school year cost Los Angeles Unified $270 million. The goal is to have students miss less than seven days a year.

Montes is aiming higher.

"Nothing less than 100 percent attendance, nothing less than 100 percent graduation and nothing less than 100 percent of our students going off to college and universities," Montes said.
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