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AACPS' Responsible Actions Attendance Program to Address Chronic Absenteeism

The Anne Arundel County Public Schools Responsible Actions Attendance Program (RAAP) was created in 2016 by four Pupil Personnel Workers (PPW) to address chronic absenteeism through parent and student workshops and connecting families to community resources. During each RAAP session, service providers are invited to share their programs with our families. Many families register for these extra supports which have included family counseling, drug treatment, mentoring, and conflict resolution.

RAAP started as a six-week evening program, but is presently being offered year round. There is a one day winter, spring and summer RAAP workshop to accommodate parent’s schedules. These sessions are four hours long. On January 31, PPW facilitators, Denise Drenning, Nicole Green, Gwendolyn Henderson,   Renee McLaughlin, and Pamela Watkins hosted the first one day winter session at the Board of Education.  It was supposed to be a day in which students were off from school, but eight students and their parents spent the morning in interactive workshops on attendance policy, goal setting, parenting styles, communication and effective discipline. This was an excellent consequence for students who could have slept in on this cold winter day.

Dr. Nicole Green, one of the PPWs who developed and coordinates the program with Denise Drenning states, “RAAP is great partnership with our court system. We have moved beyond just a punitive system of addressing truancy to helping families identify the barriers that are hindering their child’s success. Judge Spencer and our States’ Attorney, Ellen Opdyke truly care. They contribute to our efforts to educate and give parent’s important tools for parenting.”  Judge Spencer often mandates parents who show up in his court room for truancy to attend RAAP workshops. He has been a great advocate for PPWs and the programs and services they offer. Judge Spencer often shares stories with students and parents about his mistakes and being a parent and coach in Anne Arundel County. He is very personable and participates in the activities and discussions during RAAP. He says once he takes off his robe, he’s just a regular guy and his first and most important job is to be a good parent.

Parents walk away from the RAAP workshops feeling empowered. Gwendolyn Henderson said as she facilitated the discussion on parenting styles, “I am just like you, a parent, and I am surprised my boys turned out o.k.!” PPWs work to break down the walls of frustration with participants through laughter and sharing their personal parenting stories, too. One parent wrote “I am going to try and be a better parent all around and be open to new ideas about bonding with my child to hopefully promote good behavior and in the end good attendance.”