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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 22, 2013 at 7:02 AM

Regular attendance is important for all schools

Recognize when a student needs help

Thank you for highlighting the issue of school attendance [“Attendance counts,” page one, Nov. 21].

I am a clinician with Sound Mental Health and the clients I see almost all struggle with regular attendance.

Noticing this is the first step to flagging that something more is going on with this student. Every behavior is a form of communication and schools need to recognize that a punitive response will not solve the problem.

My hope is that Seattle Public Schools uses the Diplomas Now program not just to increase attendance and graduation rates, but as a tool to connect at-risk students to necessary therapeutic services.

A student missing school, skipping classes or leaving school in the middle of the day is telling us that he or she is struggling with something. The students I work with report that attending class can seem overwhelming due to conflict at home, difficulty with peer relationships, bullying or because of mental-health struggles.

Truancy is a marker of a child’s well-being and mental health. Our job is to be more than just reactionary and instead recognize when a child needs assistance.

Laura Philip, Seattle

Comments | More in Education | Topics: education

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