Fewer students cutting classes at Oakland schools

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The vast majority of parents know their children's success depends on attending classes. But there are a number of reasons why students don't.

Charlie Plant, a principal in Oakland, can name a few: stress in the home, in the neighborhood, alcoholism, drugs and even depression are some other factors.

"It ain't relevant to them, don't care about it, I'm bored or I'm a failure," said Plant.

Oakland unified was one of the first in California to start collecting data on students who missed too many days. Their efforts seems to have paid off.

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"Why are kids missing school because regardless of the reason, it impacts their academics," said Theresa Clincy with the Oakland School District.

Having that information led to outreach programs. Each school now has a team with an attendance manager. Each student is tracked.

So far, Oakland is having some success. In 2009, when they began to address the problem, 16 percent of students were chronically absent. Now, it's just over 11 percent.

Plant says it's easy to see why students get discouraged. "And eventually disengage and find someplace else to engage. There are other places in the world to engage, most of them are outside of the school building for a lot of kids," he said.

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Students at MetWest High School say what they're interested in and the school finds ways to support them. Maurice Rivas has an internship counseling younger students in Oakland.

"I'm telling all of them to get on their work and it's worth it for the future," he explained.

Plant say the key is to intervene quickly and as humanly possible.

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