Pasadena ISD receives $100K Truancy Prevention and Intervention Grant

Pasadena ISD receives $100K Truancy Prevention and Intervention Grant
Posted on 10/24/2019
For students struggling with school attendance, Pasadena ISD is letting families know they care. 

The Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees’ recently voted unanimously on a Truancy Prevention and Intervention Grant from the Criminal Justice Division of the Texas Governor’s Office. In its second year, the grant, totaling $117,641, will allow the district to continue employing two juvenile case managers at Jackson Intermediate, Queens Intermediate and Pasadena High School so they can continue providing support to students facing barriers to school attendance. 

Jackson Intermediate and Pasadena High School were chosen to receive the grant funding based on their location in the 77506 zip code, which has been determined to be a high-need area in Pasadena. 

The program also focused on intermediate schools, as well as high schools, with the goal of correcting truant behaviors in younger students before those students enroll in high school. As such, Queens Intermediate received the grant funding because their students will attend Pasadena High School sophomore year.

As truancy case managers, Andrea Curry and Priscilla Gutierrez have the opportunity to build connections with students and their families while working with administrative teams to address absenteeism. 

They meet with each student to determine their individual needs and schedule parent conferences to develop a plan of action. 

If a student misses school, the managers will call their parents to learn why the students were absent and emphasize the importance of education, in addition to offering school and community resources to help. 

Efforts to boost school attendance yield positive results. Shortly after parent conferences, student attendance and academic performance have shown improvements among students. Data shows that students who work with Curry and Gutierrez are more likely to have regular attendance due to the support system the case managers have established. 

Reflecting back on the successes of this past year, Gutierrez remembers a family who first entered the Truancy Intervention/Prevention program. She said the students often missed school. The mother struggled to convince her daughters that education was important. The mother said, “the girls were bigger than her and she couldn’t tell them what to do anymore,” said Gutierrez. 

The case managers checked-in with the older children on a weekly basis and the younger children on a daily basis to provide an attendance support system for the family. Curry and Gutierrez also helped the students with credit recovery, participated in parent engagement nights, conducted regular home visits, and assisted with skill development. 

Curry and Gutierrez said that one of the girls has obtained the third-highest score on the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System exam for her class.

Studies show that when children do not attend school on regular basis, they are less likely to succeed in academics and are more likely to cause mischief in their communities. 

“A decline in a student’s attendance is a sure sign that there is an underlining problem and that the student is in need of intervention. By identifying the barriers that students are facing, we can initiate the intervention process by providing the necessary services and resources to help the students succeed.  Attendance is important for students to receive the maximum benefits of an education and obtain future success.” said Curry and Gutierrez.