CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) - Central Falls graduates from the class of 2011 missed months of un-excused time in the classroom but still received diplomas, according to records obtained by Target 12.
During the 180 day school year, eight graduates missed at least 50 school days with some of them missing half the year.
"It could happen," Central Falls Superintendent Dr. Frances Gallo said when we asked if a student could miss half the year and still graduate. "It's rare but it could happen."
Twenty-six seniors from last year's graduating class missed at least 30 days with the most truant students reflected in this list:
- Graduate A ABSENT-115 days TARDY-45 days.
- Graduate B ABSENT-91 days TARDY-21 days
- Graduate C ABSENT-83 days TARDY-28 days.
- Graduate D ABSENT-69 days TARDY-11 days
- Graduate E ABSENT-66 days TARDY-77 days
- Graduate F ABSENT-56 days TARDY-34 days
Gallo defends the graduates, saying they met state requirements and made up missed classroom time on weekends and in other programs.
"You have to be in the trenches with the student, the parents, the teachers," Gallo said.
This rash of truancy happened the year Central Falls climbed from a 48 percent graduation rate to a 71 percent graduation rate. Several Central Falls teachers tell Target 12 they are skeptical about the 2011 rate.
"I don't think numbers ever tell the whole story," Gallo said of the truancy stats.
She believes the graduation rate number.
"Rhode Island Department of Ed. came in, audited everything. Those were real kids. Real people. Real make-up. They came and they conquered it," Gallo said.
But as one teacher who asked not to be identified said, they cannot teach students who are not in the classroom.
Eyewitness News has learned that the state does not enforce student attendance.
"We're certainly always open to recommendations to policy. We know that students need to be participating actively in school programming in order to learn," Education Commissioner Deborah Gist said.
Gist says everyone who graduates meets state proficiency requirements.
"We know that the students who are leaving our high schools - believe me, they will tell you how hard they have to work to earn their credits, to complete their projects, and the things that are part of our overall diploma system. We see increased collaboration, huge increases in parent engagement. We have a long way to go, but good things are happening in Central Falls," Gist stated.
Copyright WPRI 12
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