LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan has the not-so-honorable distinction of having more kids not getting off the bus for school than any of the nine most populated states in the United States, according to a New York Times report.
Nationwide, Michigan ranks fourth for student absences. That means 500,000-plus students were chronically absent.
The highest truancy rates within the 10 most populated states rank as follows:
- Michigan — 39%
- New York — 33%
- Florida — 32%
- California, Illinois, Ohio — 30%
The New York Times data is based on the last school year. Don Wotruba, executive director of the Michigan Association of School Boards, concedes that schools have been trying to solve other problems, and efforts to cut into truancy are not what they were before COVID.
“It has been a problem historically,” Wotruba said. “I think schools have had so many other issues — trying to find teachers, trying to keep track of kids — I don’t know if the truancy focus has been as it was pre-COVID.”
To make matters even worse, state educators have lost track of some 85,000 students who simply disappeared off the school radar.
“Some out of the 1.4 million [total public school kids in Michigan] are gone, and any number out at all is not good,” Wotruba said.
Parents who are found guilty of allowing truancy get a warning the first time and a possible meeting with the superintendent on the second offense.
Fines of up to $1,000 and community service come after the fourth offense.