Dialing for Students: Celebrity Night

Local “celebrities” will take time next week to help raise awareness of the importance of regular school attendance as part of a week-long, community wide effort to help decrease chronic absenteeism throughout Shelby County.

More than 20 elected officials, television personalities, athletes and distinguished community members will gather together at the Shelby County Schools Parent Welcome Center on Monday, July 25, to call on households with school-aged children to discuss the consequences of school absences and help address any barriers or concerns that may cause students to miss school.

Celebrity callers include Memphis City Mayor Jim Strickland, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Memphis Police Department Interim Director Michael Rallings, Grammy Award winning producer Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, Miss TN 1996 Jeni Stephens, and many more.

Chronic absenteeism can cause a student to fall behind academically and decrease their chances of graduation, which can then lead to long-term consequences impacting financial independence, physical well-being and mental health.

Students who miss 10 percent of school, or as little as two days a month, are considered chronically absent and are subject to declining performance.

The four-day awareness event will see volunteers call more than 3500 families and households throughout Shelby County, and will kick-off a larger community campaign focused on attendance that will run through National Attendance Awareness Month this September.

The call event is being sponsored by the Shelby County Attendance and Truancy Task Force (ATTF), a joint coalition convened by the PeopleFirst Partnership and Operation Safe Community and co-chaired by Shelby County Attorney General Amy Weirich and SCS Superintendent, Dorsey Hopson.

The ATTF was originally formed in 2015 and consists of a large group of stakeholders throughout the community to look at truancy and absenteeism and help find solutions. This year, the ATTF has established a goal of reducing chronic absenteeism by 25 percent across both Shelby County Schools and the Achievement School District.