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More Than 40,000 CPS Students Are ‘Chronic’ Truants

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Truancy

This 15-year-old boy admitted he was supposed to be in school when CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman found him at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — More than 40,000 Chicago Public Schools students have been “chronically truant” this year, missing nearly a month or more of class, CBS 2 has learned.

Reporter Kristyn Hartman takes a look inside those numbers and at the three schools with the highest truancy rates.

It was 10:30 AM on the South Side, and 15-year-olds were just hanging out.

Hartman asked if they should be in school.

“Yeah, we’re supposed to be in school,” one of them admitted.

Miss 17 days or more in Chicago, and you’re chronically truant.  As of mid-May, Bogan, the much larger Curie and Hyde Park high schools had the most kids who fit that bill.  At that time, the district had some 40,000 chronic truants.

“That’s a huge number.  That’s a lot of our children who are not in the classroom receiving an education learning to be productive citizens,” said concerned parent Toylee Green-Harris. “It’s very alarming.”

She wants CPS to work on it.  Chief Area Officer Dr. Karen Saffold, who we met at a bustling Vanderpoel Elementary, says they are. She described the situation as “fixable.”

“If we educate the parents, engage them, that’s really the key to making sure that our children get to school,” she said.

Nearly 900 CPS first-graders are chronic truants.  That visibly upset Robeson High School Principal Gerald Morrow, who shook his head.

“By the time they get to me, they don’t even see the importance of it,” Morrow said.

With the help of “Culture of Calm” money – and according to Morrow, it does take money – he says he’s hit the issue hard and seen a 17-point gain in attendance.

“If you’re not here for three days, we make sure we send someone out to your house,” he said.

A spokeswoman for new CPS CEO J.C. Brizard says the administration takes truancy very seriously.  Just Wednesday, Brizard spoke about the importance of school-parent partnerships.

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