Youngstown Schools CEO not happy with attendance rates, saying problem starts at home

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"The only way we can teach scholars is if they're here," CEO Justin Jennings said


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – At a public meeting Tuesday, Youngstown Schools CEO Justin Jennings talked about problems with attendance in kindergarten through third grade. But attendance is also an issue for some of the older kids.

Jennings said the city school district has a poor attendance rate.

“When you start to get to like, 90 [percent] and below 90, it’s not really good. But 88 — and you’re getting to 88 — that’s not good at all.”

He said, ideally, he would like that number to be between 94 and 96.

Jennings has been particularly vocal about the attendance rate in grades K through 3. Last school year, it was 90.4% — a number he does not like.

“No. No, not at all,” he said. “The only way we can teach scholars is if they’re here.”

He said poor attendance creates a bad habit.

“If you do it for so long, it just becomes natural.”

Of Youngstown’s nine kindergarten through eighth grade schools, Taft had the poorest attendance rate last school year at 90.1%.

Eight of the nine had rates at 92% or below. The only school with a rate above 94% was Paul C. Bunn.

Jennings said the problem starts at home.

“They’re not getting themselves up to go to school. It has to be someone else at the house.”

East High School has the city’s worst attendance at 85%. Chaney High School has an attendance rate of 88.7%.

Youngstown is looking to work with the Cleveland Browns in the team’s initiative to get students to school.

The district also has two attendance support specialists who knock on doors to see why students aren’t in school. Jennings told a story Tuesday about a teacher calling a parent.

“When she called, the dad said, ‘Well, you’re the fifth person to call me today.’ And I’m like, ‘Hey, that’s a good thing. That means people are concerned about your scholar not being at school.'”

Youngstown Rayen Early College, a high school scholars program, had the best attendance at 96.1%. Rayen Early College, a middle school scholars program, followed at 94.7%.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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