MV Truancy

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The Mt. Vernon Truancy Reduction Strategy Group (MVTRSG)is developing a plan to reduce truancy in Mt. Vernon. The MVTRSG includes representatives from the Mt. Vernon Public Schools, Mt. Vernon Police Department, DSS, Family Court, Probation Department, Westchester County Law Department, and the District Attorney’s Office. The MVTRSG has held a series of meetings to implement efforts to reduce truancy beginning in September 2009.


The Mt. Vernon Truancy Reduction Strategy Group efforts are based on an existing project put in place by the Yonkers Truancy Reduction Strategy Group begun in Yonkers in September 2007. Under that procedure school personnel investigate all cases where students in grades 1-8 have 20+ total unexcused absences in a single school year to determine if there are any extenuating reasons for the absences and will also review the student’s school records to determine if the absences are having negative academic impacts, as evidenced by low or failing grades, being held back, etc. If the investigation documents a negative academic impact and no extenuating circumstances, school personnel file a formal Educational Neglect report to the New York State Child Abuse Hotline, which, if accepted by NYS, is referred back to the Westchester DSS Child Protective Services (CPS) unit for investigation and appropriate action.

The short-term impact of our new policy will be to dramatically increase the number of Educational Neglect reports filed from Mt. Vernon, beginning in October 2009. We estimate that successful implementation of our new policy will result approximately 300 additional Educational Neglect reports from Mt. Vernon during our first year of implementation. This range represents an increase of almost 600%. We estimate that this increased caseload will require 8-10 new CPS workers in Mt. Vernon to handle the increased caseload. Family Court and Probation would also experience increased caseloads as the new cases make their way through the system.

The potential long-term impacts of our new policy are enormous. If properly implemented, our new procedure could identify and help bring early intervention services to hundreds of high-risk youth in high-risk families who would otherwise in most cases float through the system unaided until they emerged again into public view as teenage delinquents, dropouts, and criminals. The early intervention services provided will not be able to save every student or turn around every dysfunctional family, but they offer our best hope for long-term reductions in school failure, violence, drug abuse, and crime in Mt. Vernon.


Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Time: "'12-1:15pm"'
Location: Mt Vernon Board of Education 165 N Columbus Ave, Mt Vernon, NY 10553 - 2nd Floor Conference Room "The Fishbowl"

NEXT Mount Vernon Suspensions Response Team Meeting
Date: Monday, September 20, 2010
Time: 10:00am
Location: Mt. Vernon City School District, 165 N Columbus Ave


 * September 22, 2010 (Truancy Liason meeting at 10 am to be followed by a Truancy Reduction Strategy Group meeting at 11:30 am)
 Any changes in meeting dates will be posted on this page.


  • March 24, 2010



  • Why Truancy Matters
    In this five-minute presentation Karl Bertrand gives a rapid-fire overview of the many ways that chronic truancy negatively impacts individuals and communities. Understanding these diverse negative impacts is important because they serve as incentives for mobilizing different groups of stakeholders to support local truancy prevention efforts.
  • Truancy Initiative-Part 1: What We Did
    In this two-part video presentation, Karl Bertrand describes how an inner-city school district (Mount Vernon, NY) cut total absenteeism district-wide by 19.8% in two years - without any additional grant funding. In Part I, he summarizes the actions the district took to address chronic truancy.
  • MV Truancy Initiative-Part 2: What We've Accomplished
    In this two-part video presentation, Karl Bertrand describes how an inner-city school district (Mount Vernon, NY) cut total absenteeism district-wide by 19.8% in two years - without any additional grant funding. In Part 2, he describes the impressive results achieved to date, including an analysis of the 19.8% district-wide reduction in total absenteeism.
  • "A truancy crisis" from The Buffalo News editorial page\
    This article shows how one urban school district is floundering without a coherent strategy to address chronic truancy, in sharp contrast to the remarkable success that the Mount Vernon City School District has achieved in its inner-city schools.

Educators and researchers have long recognized the importance of mastering reading by the end of third grade. Students who fail to reach this critical milestone often falter in the later grades and drop out before earning a high school diploma. Now, researchers have confirmed this link in the first national study to calculate high school graduation rates for children at different reading skill levels and with different poverty rates. Results of a longitudinal study of nearly 4,000 students find that those who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers. For the worst readers, those couldn’t master even the basic skills by third grade, the rate is nearly six times greater. While these struggling readers account for about a third of the students, they represent more than three fifths of those who eventually drop out or fail to graduate on time. What’s more, the study shows that poverty has a powerful influence on graduation rates. The combined effect of reading poorly and living in poverty puts these children in double jeopardy.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) published this very detailed and useful “Tool Kit for Creating Your Own Truancy Reduction Program" in 2007.

This three-page excerpt from Yonkers' Juvenile Justice Strategy and Action Plan (as released on 4/8/08) summarizes major research findings on how chronic truancy impacts individuals and communities.

This three-page document summarizes the Yonkers Public Schools' new initiative to reduce chronic truancy through improved educational neglect reporting. This initiative was submitted in July 2008 for possible inclusion in the United States Conference of Mayors' list of best practices for At-Risk Youth and High School Drop-Out Prevention.

This flowchart illustrates the Educational Neglect reporting process being implemented in Yonkers, as proposed on 3/16/07.

This draft protocol, revised on 4/3/09, outlines the 21 specific steps that the Mount Vernon City School District in Mount Vernon, NY is planning to follow in order to replicate the truancy reduction strategy first developed in Yonkers.

This supplemental educational neglect reporting form helps mandated reporters in the schools organize the information needed to file an effective report to the State Central Registry. This version, prepared by the Westchester Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, is based upon a form developed by the Yonkers Board of Education, Westchester County Attorney, Westchester County District Attorney, and Westchester County Department of Social Services.

Students who drop out of school don't do so impulsively but instead may fall into a dropout trajectory as early as kindergarten, according to an Arizona State University study to appear in the Journal of Education Research. "Educators may be overlooking important developmental trajectories exhibited by students prior to entering high school," said Gregory Hickman, who directed the undergraduate research. "Dropouts miss an average of 124 days by eighth grade." The Arizona Republic (Phoenix) (2/6/08)

This Powerpoint presentation summarizes the findings of the study referred to above.

This 2007 study, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, compares the average number of days kindergarten and elementary school students were absent across income levels and races/ethnicities, and explores how rates of early absenteeism affect absenteeism in later years as well as academic achievement.

Students who are disengaged from school are at risk for many poor outcomes beyond poor academic achievement. They are at risk of skipping classes, sexual activity, substance use, and ultimately dropping out of school. A new Child Trends brief, Assessing School Engagement: A Guide for Out-Of-School Time Program Practitioners, provides information on why school engagement matters, how out-of-school time programs can affect school engagement, and how to measure engagement. The brief includes specific measures of school engagement from three surveys and a list of additional resources.

Paying attention to early absenteeism provides an invaluable opportunity to identify and address social, emotional, cognitive and familial issues early on. It offers a chance to intervene before children have fallen years behind the academic performance of their peers and lost hope in ever succeeding in school. Using absenteeism as a trigger for early intervention could be especially important for closing the achievement gap for low-income families as well as for children from communities of color. Schools and communities, however, cannot take advantage of this opportunity to take an upstream approach to addressing problems unless chronic absence is tracked and monitored for each student. Ensuring every child has an equal opportunity to reach his or her potential requires making sure every child is present, engaged and accounted for as soon as they begin school.

This NYS Office of Children and Family Services Model Policy on Educational Neglect was released on February 28, 2008.

America's Promise Alliance recently commissioned Grad Nation, a new tool comprising the best evidence-based practices for keeping young people in school paired with suggestions for effectively preparing them for life after high school. With generous support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grad Nation was written by Robert Balfanz, associate professor at Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University; and John Bridgeland, president and CEO, Civic Enterprises. It is a guidebook that provides a road map to help communities tackle the dropout crisis. It is designed to help communities develop tailored plans for keeping students on track to graduate from high school, prepared for college, work and life. Grad Nation also includes ready-to-print tools and links to additional online resources, in addition to research-based guidance. It provides information and tools for developing and implementing a customized program that’s right for individual communities.

This brief from the National Middle School Association, drawing on research and field work, illuminates key policy and practice implications of the middle grades playing a stronger role in achieving our national goal of graduating all students from high school prepared for college or career and civic life. The brief is based on more than a decade of research and development work at the Center for the Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University. It also draws on direct field experience in more than 30 middle schools implementing comprehensive reform and a longstanding collaboration with the Philadelphia Education Fund.

This 60 page, June 2009 report, prepared by John M. Bridgeland, John J. DiIulio, Jr. and Robert Balfanz, presents the perspectives of teachers and principals on the high school dropout problem. A Report by Civic Enterprises in association with Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the AT&T Foundation and the America’s Promise Alliance.

NY Daily News staff writer Meredith Kolodner reporting on the role played by New York City's underfunded and uncoordinated system of GED preparation programs.

This website provides both an information clearinghouse and a forum to examine the relationship between chronic absence in the early elementary school grades and academic performance. Be sure to follow its link to Ensuring School Success by Addressing Attendance and Chronic Absence in the Early Grades: A Call to Action for State And Local Education Leaders.