LA Unified 'recovers' high school dropouts

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Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

L.A. Unified School District board member Steve Zimmer outside the home of a high school dropout. He and other educators formed one of 10 teams out to "recover" students who'd stopped showing up to school. Zimmer and his team recovered 15 students from neighborhoods near Fremont High School in South L.A.

Several hundred Los Angeles Unified School District administrators and other employees worked the phones for a day Monday and visited door-to-door in search of truants and dropouts. Their aim was to persuade those young people back into classrooms.

High school dropout rates continue to trouble most public school officials in the Southland with L.A. Unified's dropout rate significantly higher than the statewide average.

School board member Steve Zimmer proposed the "Student Recovery Day." He led one of 10 teams of educators in search of students who’ve stopped showing up at school. In the Florence Firestone neighborhood, Zimmer stepped out of a plain, one-story house he’d visited for an hour.

He wanted to maintain the family’s privacy, so he wouldn’t disclose names or identifying details. He did say that his team engaged in deep discussion with a 15-year-old young woman and her family about her education.

Her troubles, he said, are "broken family, a economic crisis, drug issues, a lot of conflict between the parent and the child. And the child has not been in school consistently for two years. And this is the first time someone’s been able to find her."

Zimmer searched for a hospital substance abuse program for the teen, and also for a family counselor. "It’s a perfect example of, if we look, if we take the time to say, we will sit with you, there are no easy answers, we will try to struggle through this, we have a shot."

Later in the day an administrator on Zimmer’s team said the young woman had returned to the Fremont High School campus to enroll in a continuation program. In one day, the team visited 11 homes and re-enrolled 15 students who’d stopped going to school.

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