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[Podcast] Chronic Absenteeism feat. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez

The first step is to declare chronic absenteeism as the crisis that it is, says Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, superintendent of Hartford Public Schools in Hartford, Conn. She saw spikes in absenteeism at particular grade levels — kindergarten and 9th, for example — that called for a holistic approach.

Torres-Rodriguez also says her district had to add funding to the budget. Some of the money went to student engagement specialists. 

She talks about rewriting the code of conduct to bring a more restorative approach to the school. Torres-Rodriguez talks about the idea that this work is systems work. To fully integrate and sustain change efforts, we need to embed them at the systems level. 

Podcast hosts T.J. Vari and Joseph Jones ask her to go deeper with the reasons why equity work, like shifting exclusionary practices to more inclusive strategies, are a root cause of absenteeism. 

To view the full list of episodes, click here.

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