Education

'Recovery Day' helps bring LAUSD dropouts back to school

Randy Banks, Jr. and Chad Tim Sing Melendez both made it back into LAUSD classroom after dropping after school.
Randy Banks, Jr. and Chad Tim Sing Melendez both made it back into LAUSD classroom after dropping after school.
Priska Neely/ KPCC

The Los Angeles Unified School District conducted their ninth annual Student Recovery Day Thursday, with employees and volunteers coming together to locate students who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of school. 

When they locate the students, they offer them resources and support in order to help them return to school. Since the first Recovery Day in 2009, 5,219 students have returned through their efforts.

Erika Torres, LAUSD's Executive Director of Student Health and Human Services, told KPCC about a 16-year-old student who she convinced to re-engage with high school on one of the district's Recovery days. 

"The reason why he had dropped out was he had to work," Torres said. "His parents were working but they didn't have any food in the refrigerator so he wanted to contribute to his family's income."

She connected him with a youth work force development program that would help him find work and receive job training. "We were able to re-enroll him at his high school that day," she said, and he went on to graduate from high school in 2015.

When volunteers reach students, they discuss the barriers impacting their attendance, Torres said. They often drop out because of instability or trauma at home, and the volunteers work with caregivers to address those barriers. 

"Student Recovery Day for us in LA Unified happens every day," Torres said. "We just use one day out of the year to highlight the impact and importance of our community-based partnerships, but we do this work every day."