We collected data through the method known as focus groups. After conducting focus groups we then moved on to phone call interviews. We collected a wide variety of data with many recurring themes and some surprises.

Findings Table of Contents:

School Interest/Relevance 

  • Student’s lack of motivation for a daily routine has impacted their attendance
  • Students have jobs outside of school that impact their routine

A parent expressed that their student had become” lazy, she didnt need to be there for the first period so she was sleeping in”

A parent explained that “we were trying to figure out what’s wrong with her, so she had to get a sleep study”

Lack of awareness of issues/policies 

  • There were many disconnects in communication between parents and students with the administration
  • Parents and students experienced misunderstandings with the policy expectations
  • Some were unaware that they had attendance issues
  • Hartford Public Schools currently have ways to support their students academically, emotionally, and parentally. However, it has been noted that parents are not fully aware of every resource available to them
  • Academically, it has been noted that teachers do phone calls as an early intervention initiative to inform parents
  • One parent said the school called them after 60 absences.
  • As far as mental health is concerned, one parent revealed that their child sees a psychologist, but others are unaware of school mental health services
  • A parent expressed that there is a lack of communication between the schools and the parents. They said that “I try to do my part, but no one answers the calls or tries, I don’t care if they have to pull her hair to be there or something”

Parent Involvement

  • They want their child to have career opportunities and independence in their future
  • Parents found these goals achievable due to the numerous opportunities in the U.S.

An expectation a parent expressed was, “I just want her to be a strong, independent young lady, like the way that I grew up to be”

  • If there is a lack of trust in the parent and child relationship its impacts parent’s ability to hold their students accountable
  • A lack of communication also creates a disconnect between parents and students when it comes to going to school
  • Many parents of absent students have expressed interest in building a stronger relationship with the school
  • The majority of the parents are dissatisfied with the current way the school has been reaching out to them, which has mostly been through phone calls

The parents agreed that “As well as phone calls and messages from the schools, there should be at least one in-person meeting every several months with the parents…and these meetings should be conducted in “Latin American (Spanish) or Brazilian (Portuguese)- depending on the family”.  

School Climate

  • The parents expressed interest in schools providing more extracurriculars at school. They note that sports and activities allow students to release their energy and make going to school much more enjoyable
  • According to one parent: “Sports are fundamental in combination with school classes because you release all your energy and stress. I think they should have the opportunity to enroll in a dance course which will make students more relaxed”
  • The parents took issue with the lack of discipline at Hartford Public School toward students. According to some parents, they have not enforced their policies and have been too lenient, especially regarding uniforms, cell phone regulations, bathroom usage, and drug use
  • While the parents have not listed their own children among the students who have been known to misbehave, they are aware of these issues due to the information their child tells them

One parent revealed that “They are taking advantage of the bathroom passes to skip class, and then there are students walking through the hallway and they should be in class”

Another parent chimed in saying, “They have to know how to respect the school because you come to school to study not to sleep”

  • The parents suggest that schools need to put effort into finding out what the absent student is doing. Through communication and interactions, they see the importance of finding the reason for their absence and addressing it

“Some students are absent because they need to take care of their brothers, and the schools are not aware of that so they do not help” one parent noted

Barriers to Attendance

  • Student’s inability to get to school impacts their attendance 
  • Student’s sleeping in has impacted parent’s abilities to drive them to school
  • Walking to school poses an issue for students when there is poor weather
  • It is an inconvenience for families that live outside of the school bus zone, especially for parental guardians with other responsibilities
  • Students experience food insecurity; during interviews, students expressed how donuts and iced coffee would motivate them to attend school more.
  • Some students miss school due to having doctors appointments during the school 

A parent expressed that “the doctor is very busy too so I have to take whatever the doctor has and she has to miss the day.”

  • Health issues impact student’s sleep schedules making them unable to attend school

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