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LRSD sees struggle with student attendance nearly two weeks into school year

Messages went out to parents this week with a reminder that the district may drop students after 10 consecutive absences.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Almost two weeks into the new school year and Little Rock School District is already seeing problems with student attendance. 

Messages went out to parents this week with a reminder that the district may drop students after 10 consecutive absences. 

That ten-day mark comes Friday, Aug. 27. 

At Chicot Elementary they're calling parents individually whose students haven't shown up to class yet. 

Principal Gina Khoury said they want to make sure they're addressing every parents' needs before that ten-day mark hits.

"At 10 days, we are to drop students, because that shows a vacancy there in the system and we don't know if they are going to be actually attending," she said.

Khoury believes some of those empty seats and no-shows are because of worried parents. 

"They're waiting to see how things go and what the numbers look like so they're concerned about the pandemic, and we understand, and they want to make sure that we're doing everything we can to protect their child," Khoury said.

It's not just an issue at Chicot Elementary, LRSD Superintendent Michael Poore said it's one of the district's biggest concerns.

"We still have a large number of students who have not keyed in to be in school and we need that to happen. Whether they're a virtual student or an in-person student," he said.

Poore said that number includes more than 500 students at the high school level that have not showed up for class. 

A part of these absences were students on the district's virtual academy wait list. 

A list, that Poore said, the district was still trying to tackle but needs more staffing on Wednesday.

"K-6, where we've had our biggest challenge. We had about 350 additional students, that we really weren't ready for," he said.

Natalie James said her third-grade daughter, November, was still on that wait list and still unaccounted for since she hasn't shown up to school.

"I'm not a gambling person. I gamble every once in a while but gambling my kids life, that's not something I'm going to do," James said.

For now, November stays on track by learning each day from family members, who are also former teachers. 

James is hoping that something will change and more virtual spots will open up soon.

"It's not the districts fault. It's not our fault. It's the pandemic's fault and we need to figure out how to come together and fix this," she said. 

THV11 learned on Thursday afternoon that according to LRSD, the district is in the process of moving all students who were on the waitlist for the virtual academy into spots. 

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