Republished from June 7 Newport Dispatch.
Chronic absenteeism is an old problem at regional schools, and was made more challenging by the Covid pandemic.
While the State of Vermont has Truancy Boards in local communities, North Country Supervisory Union is interested in addressing chronic absenteeism earlier in the process.
“We’re trying a new approach at North Troy School starting this fall,” said Principal Dr. Eric Irwin. “NCSU already uses restorative approaches in other settings, and this is a natural extension to families with chronically absent students.”
Traditional absence policies, like truancy boards, can involve families in the justice system and have varied effectiveness, locally and nationally.
Irwin points out that these options are still available but the school is looking at supportive and accountable approaches on the community level as an earlier, first step.
The school will work closely with the Orleans County Restorative Justice Center on volunteer recruitment and training.
“This is a fantastic step for a Northeast Kingdom school, and it relies on a group of trained community volunteers with a good facilitator, to succeed,” Barbara Morrow, executive director of the Orleans County Restorative Justice Center said.
Morrow notes that resolving issues like school absenteeism on the community level is key, and has proven to be effective in other settings and in other school systems.