Volunteers from the Rochester City School District visited the homes of chronically absent students during the first attendance blitz of the school year Thursday morning.
Ruth Santiago, a mother of five kids, fears for her oldest daughter’s safety as she leaves the house to go to school.
“Every time she goes by this place, they start talking to her and she gets like afraid,” said Santiago.
Santiago’s 15-year-old daughter walks to James Monroe High School in Rochester. Because she is harassed by a group of guys, she chooses not to go most day. Santiago wishes she could drive her or at least give her bus fare.
“It was an issue to get a bus pass, to come home, so sometimes I gotta pay and I didn’t have it,” said Santiago.
It’s issues like this that Jerome Underwood says keeps children in the RCSD from getting to class or even worse — graduating.
“Each person is an instrument of change,” said Underwood. “We are the ones that have to take care of ourselves. This is what community work is all about. It’s not me. the superintendent. or Senator Robach. None of us can do this individually. “
At the beginning of every school year, the RCSD gathers volunteers for an attendance blitz. They find out why students with excessive absences are missing school and try to come up with a solution.
“We are trying to support families,” said Underwood. “You’re either supporting families or you’re not. This is time to call people out. “
The district is expanding their program to reach out to students K-12 hoping this will impact more families. “
“A lot of kids are going through what my daughter is going through,” said Santiago. She says she is grateful for the school supplies and hopes her story encourages the community to do more.
The RCSD begins school Sept. 6. Volunteers will perform an attendance blitz once a month.