Protesters claim East Ramapo SD failing to keep track and protect hundreds of students
The East Ramapo Central School District is facing allegations of letting hundreds of students go unaccounted for during the pandemic.
A protest was held outside the district offices Tuesday night where parents say the district has failed to keep track and protect hundreds of students who should be in class - but are racking up absences instead.
Advocates are demanding the district ensure every missing student - online and in-person - is accounted for.
They say one incident got so bad that an immigrant advocacy group reported a student who missed more than 100 days of school, and was nearly sold into human trafficking and sexually abused.
They say that's a rare and unthinkable case, but argue hundreds of other students aren't getting educated because the district isn't doing more to keep them in class.
The district paints a different story. It is not commenting on any "missing children," but says there are nearly 500 students who are chronically absent.
The district's Attendance Task Force has made hundreds of home visits and calls to these families.
But some claim it's not enough. "We have the extreme of human trafficking but there's also child abuse or depression. You don't know what's happening with these kids and if we're not checking up on them then how are they getting the help they need?" asks advocate Sherly Fabre.
School officials say the districtwide attendance is up to 85% since returning kids to the classroom.
District officials also say they are hiring seven new social workers with a focus on diversity to help address students' needs and get them back to school.