NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – If you are a parent in New Mexico and your kid is absent a lot, expect to get notified a lot. With 40% of New Mexico school children considered chronically absent, missing more than 10 days of school, the New Mexico Public Education Department is trying a new way to get those kids back in class.

They’re offering school districts different tools in hopes of lowering those numbers. “We saw that rate go from 16-percent in 19-20 to a 30-percent chronic absentee in the 20-21 school year and then we just saw the higher level data 21-22 school year across the state it went to 40-percent to chronic absentee rate on average,” said Anne Marlow-Geter, Interim Director of Safe and Healthy Schools.

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Albuquerque Public Schools and many other school districts will be notifying parents of when their child misses school. If a child has several unexcused absences, the district then must consider if they need to notify Children Youth and Families Department Juvenile Probation Office for extra help with the student and parents.

“There are interventions in place and some non-profits and programs that we have in place locally and at the state level to help develop support so that school can work with United Way and Engage New Mexico with students who are really struggling with chronic absenteeism,” said Marlow-Geter.

Before this bill was passed in 2019, it would be up to the District Attorney’s Office to hold parents accountable that their kids were attending school. The new approach is letting school districts try to solve the problem before it gets out of hand. The hope is to find the root cause of why students are missing school.