Colorado’s alternative schools led truancy rates in early pandemic

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DENVER (KDVR) — Alternative schools typically have higher truancy rates than traditional public schools, and the pandemic year was no exception.

During the 2019-20 school year, most schools around the country had to make hasty decisions about their education methods once then-President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in March 2020.

Among the Denver metro, some districts had notably higher truancy rates than others: Adams County 14, Westminster Public Schools, and Denver County 1.

Adams 14 had the highest truancy rate in Metro Denver at 8.4%, followed by Westminster Public Schools at 5.9% and Denver County 1 at 5%.

Certain schools in each of these districts contributed the most to the truancy numbers, with the worst rates heavily tending to be alternative schools.

Some of Denver County’s alternative schools had truancy rates that dwarfed the rest of the state.

Florence Critterton High School, which serves teen mothers, led the district with a 38% truancy rate. Emily Griffith High School, an alternative school that helps get previously ungraduated students GEDs and diplomas, had a 30.1% truancy rate. Of the Denver County 1 schools with truancy rates over 10%, all but four were alternative schools.

Other districts had similar truancy rates from traditional public schools.

Westminster Public Schools overall truancy rate was driven upward largely by Hidden Lake High School, an alternative school. Westminster High School, a traditional public school, still had a high truancy rate with 11%, but only half that of the district’s alternative school.

Adams County 14 schools had the same trend.

Alternative school Lester Arnold High School had the district’s worst truancy rate at 21.9%, while traditional Adams City High School had a 16.2% truancy rate.

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