Box 10, Folder 11, Document 80

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Box 10, Folder 11, Document 80

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Proposal for
The Community Council of the Atlanta Area, Inc., has been engaged in a
study of social problems in urban renewal areas for the city as part of
the Community Improvement Program. In September, 1965, a group of residents of the Summerhill-Mechanicsville area were brought together as a
means of involving residents in the study of problems in their community
and in planning to remedy these problems. The group adopted the name
Mechanicsville-Summerhill Improvement Committee.
The committee identified school absenteeism on the part of a large number
of children in the community as a problem which should have first priority.
It set about investigating the services established within the schools and
other community agencies to deal with the problem of school attendance.
Dr . Jarvis Barnes, Director of Research and Development, met with the
committee and outlined the schools' plan to deal with this problem under
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act . Representatives
of the committee met with Mr. O. L. Boozer, Director of Pupil Services,
to discuss the problem.
The committee met with the principals of the five elementary schools in
t he ar ea. They provided further information about the absentee p r oblem.
Lists of children who had been chronically absent from school wer e obtai ned
f r om two schools. One listed 150 names, the other, 96. A sample sur vey
was conducted in one ar ea to determine the incidence of the p r oblem and to
i dent if y some of its c auses . During 14½ hours of ob servat i on , thirty• nine
children were found with i n a five-b l ock area ; who we r e absent from school.
The r ea s ons f o r absenc e varied from lack of money for clothe s and lunche s
t o nega tive p aren ta l atti t udes towar d s chool attendanc e.
Membe rs of the c ommittee made visits to the homes of these abs e nt ee s . The
same r e asons - lack of proper c l othi ng, ca re of younger br othe rs and
si s ter s, i nadeq ua t e super vis i on by pa ren t s - were f ound to be t he causes
of non-att endance .

Handbills were devised by th e c ommittee , urgi ng parents t o send their
child r en to schoo l and r eminding t hem of t he i r legal obl i gation to do so .
The handbills we r e distributed t o children at school to take home . Repor ts
f rom two pr incipals indic a ted tha t this wa s eff ective i n motivati ng some
pa r en ts to see that their children returned to school . Some childr en were
brou gh t in who had never a t tended school . Some par ents indicated that the y
f e ared t h e y woul d r isk arr est if they did not send t he ir chil dre n t o s chool,
although thi s was no t stated in the h andbil l .
The committee is awar e of the multi ple p roblems of parents in the community.
Ne verthel e ss, the committee has found that many pare n ts with these s ame
probl ems are abl e t o get thei r ch i ldren to s chool if they are sufficiently
motivat ed. The committee members strongly f e el that adequate enforcement
of the compulsory attendance law would remedy much of the absenteeism.
There is presently in the Mechanicsville-Summerhill area only one visiting
teacher to follow-up on school absentees. He is responsible for absentees
in 16 schools, including approximately 10,700 children.
Atlanta Public Schools has recognized in its proposal under Title I of
Public Law 89-10 the importance of improving school attendance in disadvantaged areas. An original budget for 40 additional social workers
has been reduced to 10 because trained professional personnel is not
available. Many more workers are needed for adequate handling of attendance
problems in the 40 schools located in disadvantaged areas.
II .
The Mechanicsville-Summerhill Improvement Committee, in their home · visits,
has shown the usefulness of non-professional, neighborhood residents for
i mproving school attendance in disadvantaged areas. It is therefore proposed that a project be initiated under Title I of Public Law 89-10 to
demonstrate the effectiveness of using non-professional, community residents to improve school attendance in disadvantaged areas. Such personnel
would be designated "School Attendance Aides".
Target Area
It is proposed that two elementary schools in the MechanicsvilleSummerhill area be selected for this project. It is suggested that
Capitol Avenue (Summerhill) and Cooper Street (Mechani csville) Schools
would be the appropriate demonstration areas. The principals of these
t wo s chools have expressed an interest in parti cipati ng in the p r oposed
p r oject.
To r ed uce the number of absentees i n schools located in
d is adv anta ged areas
To improve the r e l at i onshi p between t he school and t h e c ommunit y
in d isadva n taged ar e a s
To demonstr ate th e ef fec tivenes s of us i ng neighborhood people in
disadvan t aged areas as school a ttendance workers
To ameliorate the shorta ge of personne l in s chool social
To give employment to people in disadvantaged areas who possess
special knowledge and skills needed to work effectively in these
To obtain more adequate enforcement of the compulsory school
attendance law
School Attendance Aides would be non-professional, neighborhood
residents employed by the Atlanta Public Schools to work in sel~cted
elementary schools. Recruitment of candidates for these positions
would be done by the individual school principal, who would select
people with the required qualifications from the neighborhood. Final
decision on employment of School Attendance Aides would be left to
the Division of Pupil Services.
School Attendance Aides would work under the direct supervision of the
visiting teacher or school social worker assigned to the area.
Absentees identified by classroom teachers would be referred to the
aides who would make contact with the parents of the child to determine the reason for absence.
School Attendance Aides will be trained to make referrals to the
appropriate community agency where there is a need. They would continue to work with the family as long as is necessary. Aides will
serve as liaison between parents and classroom teachers to remedy
problems that may be identified in the school situation. More difficult cases will be referred by the Aides to the School social worker.
The school social worker (or visiting teacher) would initiate legal
action to enforce the compulsory attendance law when necessary.
Because attendance aides will be indigenous to the community, they
will possess unique knowledge and skills which professional workers
do not have. Aides will do much of their work in the evenings and
off hours, when working parents are most accessible. Aides will
interpret school regulations and requirements to parents in a manner
that is understandable to them. They can do much to improve schoolcommunity relations - - which is a major problem in disadvantaged
Qualifications of School Attendance Aides
Mature residents of the school neighborhood
Sincere interest in children and their educational development
Ability to get along with people and help them develop positive
attitudes toward education
Ability to understand and interpret school regulations and to
learn to make proper referrals to community agencies
Principals know individuals in their school community who possess
these qualif ications .
Functions of School Attendanc e Aides
Make follow-up visits to homes of absentees
Work with parents of absentees to develop more positive attitudes
toward the school and education
Make referrals to appropriate health and welfare agencies where
need is indicated
Inform parents of school regulations regarding immunization
prior to school entrance, and other school regulations
Inform parents of their legal obligation to send children to
school regularly
Refer cases to the visiting teacher or school social worker
for initiation of legal action when necessary
Seek out children in families new to the city and not in school
Seek out truants in the neighborhood
Training of School Attendance Aides
The training of School Attendance Aides would be done by
Pupil Services staff of the Atlanta Public Schools.
Orientation of School Attendance Aides to community resources
and instruction in referral procedures will be carried out by
the Community Council of the Atlanta Area, Inc.
It is proposed that four School Attendance Aides be assigned to each
of the schools selected in the target area - Four to the school in
Summerhill and four to the school in Mechanicsville.
CCAA, Inc.
May 18, 1966

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