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Ed officials fight chronic absenteeism

pencilPENDLETON, Ore. – Oregon’s rate of chronic absenteeism at public schools is too high. InterMountain Education Service District Superintendent Mark Mulvihill says there’s no simple answer to getting students to stop ditching school. Many times, he says, it’s not the fault of the students themselves.

“At the elementary age, when kids miss school it’s more of a parenting/family issue,” he said. “Once they get older – middle school, high school – it becomes much more of a student-driven absenteeism.”

Mulvihill says officials are working hard to track the reasons for absenteeism and to find solutions. Things have changed since he first began his career in education.

“Now, we have a lot of poverty,” he said. “We have a lot of broken homes. We have a lot of situations that aren’t healthy in America, and we see that in the schools. It’s the melting pot of our society.”

Those situations put students at risk at a much greater rate than before. He also said the problem with chronic absenteeism also creates another problem. It’s directly linked to Oregon’s low high school graduation rates.

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