The Omaha Public School system has an aggressive program in place to make sure its students are in place. It’s an attendance navigation program for kids at risk.
Norris Middle School is one of six schools within OPS equipped with Youth Attendance Navigators. Three middle schools and three high schools are included.
The staff members work with students who have the potential to succeed but have a tough time with attendance.
Attendance issues are a metro area problem facing school districts but within OPS, help to curb the trends comes in the form of those Youth Attendance Navigators.
L.D. Richardson is one of the navigators at Norris. Richardson said, “If they are with me now, when they get into high school, I don't want them to run into the same issue of being absent. So we try to instill into them now and give them the tools and resources they need to be successful now."
Richardson works in groups and sometimes one-on-one with students, through Building Bright Futures, fueled by a $175,000 grant.
Richardson said, “It takes all of us working together in order to get these kids where they need to be and help them be successful."
Parents like Paulette Ayala-Karnish understand the value of an education pays off and it keeps children out of trouble and in class.
She said, “If you don't, then they're just going to be truant. They are never going to keep a job. They will be constantly late. They are never going to make it college because if you are not there for your classes, then you are not going to learn anything; not going to get the degree you’re looking for."
The idea is for Youth Attendance Navigators to step in around 10 missed days. It’s too late if the student reaches 20.