Truancy Canvassing in New Haven - NBC Connecticut

Truancy Canvassing in New Haven



    From one Fair Haven street to the next volunteers knocked.

    These were some very important "door-to-door salespeople" that worked in New Haven Tuesday night.

    The superintendent of schools and the chief of police were knocking on doors in the Fair Haven and Hill neighborhoods selling the importance of showing up for school.

    Tuesday's truancy canvas was the second in a series of efforts by Mayor Toni Harp's office to talk to families of at-risk kids. Three weeks ago the target was those on the cusp of violence. This was on those who may be cutting class.

    And those these parents mostly shied away from NBC Connecticut cameras they took information from principals and school employees. Truancy officer Michelle Sepulveda said parents were asking for help

    "[They wanted] resources, definitely, after-school programs," Sepulveda said relating a story about a father she spoke with who works long hours. The father said the mother could use some more support because he's not really there to help out.

    In all they hit 12 homes as a part of Tuesday's community canvas on truancy. It was the second in an initiative launched by Mayor Toni Harp to engage disengaged kids. Tuesday focused on the Hill and Fair Haven neighborhoods.

    "Just not showing up at school for a few days may seem like a simple thing but it's the first steps down the path that nobody wants these kids to be on," said Garth Harries, superintendent of schools.

    Dr. Abie Benitez, principal of the Christopher Columbus--says it's about parents as much as the kids

    "Parents were really grateful to see people come to their door and talk to them to see if they had any concerns," Benitez said. "They also showed little bit of surprise that there are so many resources and they may not know about them.

    It's an idea that's getting support from busy parents

    "They need to be in school every day and they need to be in after-school programs," said Nuelma Rodriguez. "If they do more activity here in school it's much better for them in the future, they can go to college."

    School officials tell us they plan to do more truancy canvassing saying this issue touches every community across the city.