Lakeland Union High School Battles TruancySubmitted: 05/06/2013
Story By Kailey Burton

MINOCQUA - Lakeland Union High School offers amenities many larger districts don't have. The school's hard work and investment in their students is paying off in better graduation rates and grades, but one sore spot on their report card is truancy.

Last school year, one in three students was truant habitually. That number is unacceptable to Lakeland Principal Jim Bouché

"This is like a job. Being in high school, being in school is a person's job. And it prepares them for their later life, moving into the true real world situations… And when it comes to being on time, it's very important. Tardy or 'unexcused' is not something that's acceptable in the workforce," says Bouché.

Despite truancy Lakeland Union improved its failure rate- that's the number of classes failed- by 20 percent last semester.

The district has invested heavily in technology, and the goal of giving Lakeland students a competitive education compared to big cities.

One new concept, called "study labs" for different subjects, makes it impossible for kids to slip through the cracks.

"We don't call them 'study halls'," says Bouché, "We're working with our students with teachers in all of these labs. They're not hall monitors, or study hall monitors. They're being worked with, one-on-one in many cases, with teachers that are assigned to those different areas... Failure is not an option."

In the last 4 years Lakeland dropped their failure rate from 7.3% to 2.5% and improved their graduation rate from 83% to 95%.

Principal Bouche says their new plan for truancy involves working with the courts, parents and elementary schools to reestablish how important it is to show up for school.

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