CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — From the football field to the classroom, there is a lot of excitement as West Virginia schools are in full-swing this fall. But, there is a problem. The Department of Education says too many kids are missing school. Last year, 38-percent of state schools did not meet attendance standards; and 20 percent of all students were chronically absent. That means they missed 10 percent or more of the school year. A lot of parents – caught in the opioid crisis – are not raising their own kids.
“I think that’s a big issue. We have many children who don’t even know where they are going to sleep. They don’t know where they’re going to have their next meal, and grandparents are raising children. I don’t think it was ever intended to be that way. But they are doing the best they can do, with what they have,” said Dave Perry, President, West Virginia Board of Education.
“And if they are missing school, we need to find out why that is, and help with that situation,” said Cathy Justice, First Lady of West Virginia.
First Lady Cathy Justice is spearheading the state’s ‘Communities in Schools’ program. It’s designed to help kids by adding counselors, mentors, and volunteers inside the schools.
“Well it’s just such a great program. Anyone can be involved in this whether it’s grandparents, aunts, uncles. Anyone in your community can come be a part of it,” said First Lady Cathy Justice.
The idea is to give kids an incentive to come to school, by showing them a lot of people care about their interests.
“Among the places that do not have an absentee problem, are the 11 West Virginia counties that have the ‘Communities in Schools’ program. In fact, their attendance is up 67 percent. The goal now is to get the program in all 55 counties,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.