BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Parents of more than 300 children can expect a letter from the Superintendent of Birmingham City Schools and the Jefferson County District Attorney. The children have never logged on for school.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Sullivan said, “We have some of our elementary schools that have roughly 300 students, so that’s like an entire school.” Dr. Sullivan also said out of more than 21,000 students in Birmingham City Schools who have been learning remotely, roughly 300 students based on last year’s data, are not registered and therefore have not received laptops or logged on for school during this pandemic.
Sullivan and Jefferson County D.A. Danny Carr are teaming up to reach out to parents to stress the importance of making sure these children are in school which is required by state law.
Sullivan said his staff has relied on phone numbers or prior addresses that no longer work. He said the partnership with the Jefferson County DA’s office will give him additional resources to reach parents.
Sullivan said, “To send a letter out not to say that we are going to arrest anyone, but to say if you haven’t registered please do so because learning is so important. Every day a child misses affects that child in ways you may not even understand.”
District attorney Danny Carr said, “Right now I’m sure some parents think they are in trouble if they enroll their children, and we want to assure them we are here to provide resources and we want to encourage them to come in and enroll their kids in school because it is so ultimately important.”
Carr’s department has an anti-truancy program called “Helping Families” aimed at finding the root of why children are not in school. That can range from lack of transportation, to a number of socioeconomic reasons.
Ultimately, the goal is to get children in school as required by state law.
Carr said he’s addressing what he calls the pipeline to prison. Carr said, “The pipeline to prison is real and when young kids particularly don’t enroll in school and don’t understand the importance of school, they end up dropping out. They end up in the car with someone with that gun in their hand or they end up with someone giving them drugs. And they ultimately end up in a system that so many people fight so hard to get out of.”
Dr. Sullivan said kindergarten enrollment is also trending down. That’s true across the state. The head of the School Superintendents of Alabama says kindergarten enrollment is down right now by nearly 2,500 children.
60-percent of Birmingham students are set to begin a blended in-person learning schedule starting November 9. The others will continue learning remotely.