MOST WV SCHOOLS HAVE HIGH TRUANCY RATE – Calhoun’s Truancy Rate Unavailable, Gilmer School’s Truancy Rate 50%

Image result for truancy

By Bob Weaver

WV state school board member Wade Linger recently said that in some counties teachers are missing more days than their students.

State education officials acknowledge there may be a problem but couldn’t provide any firm numbers to support the Linger’s allegation.

Thirty-nine of West Virginia’s 55 counties had more than a quarter of their students truant last school year. Twenty-four out of 55 had more than a third truant.

Four counties — Gilmer, Lewis, McDowell and Wyoming — had more than half their students truant.

Calhoun school superintendent Tim Woodyard did not respond to a public information request regarding the rate of Calhoun student absenteeism.

Woodward also declined to comment on the teacher rate of absenteeism.

Last year, Calhoun Schools said significant progress had been made in reducing student truancy, but the truancy rate is not available.

Students are considered truant when they have five or more absences.

The Kanawha school board unanimously voted to revise its employee attendance policy to add the requirement that teachers and other workers show proof of a doctor’s appointment within five days once they return to work.

In 2013, legislators pushed a bill to address the alleged problem, then-state schools Superintendent Jim Phares said informal data showed Linger’s assertion was true for most counties.

The state Department of Education doesn’t have teacher absenteeism data that’s comparable statewide, said spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro.

“There is not a standardized mechanism for reporting from county to county,” Cordeiro said. “We are currently working with a team to develop standardized reporting categories and should have concrete numbers by this summer.”

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association teachers union said, “I think there may be individual instances where it is being abused… and those individuals should be dealt with themselves. But as a whole, I don’t think it’s a problem.”

Less than six months later, The Kanawha school board unanimously voted to revise its employee attendance policy to add the requirement that teachers and other workers show proof of a doctor’s appointment within five days once they return to work.

“What we found was happening was that once people started getting letters warning them of their six unexcused absences, they started piling up the doctors’ excuses, which created a lot of hassles,” said the Kanawha school board’s lawyer, Jim Withrow.

Kanawha Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring said that Kanawha County faces issues with having to pay for substitutes to cover for employees who start off a school year, use all 15 sick days and then quit before school gets out.

Duerring said, “When things like this come up, it’s really deflecting away from the real issues and the problems that we’re having.”