MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Earlier this month in his Sept. 2 weekly newsletter, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland shared data that he says shows a decrease in enrollment and a rise in truant students.
However, district leaders took issue with the numbers cited by the mayor, saying he had incorrect data.
"With that data, it was not completely correct," MSCS Chief of Academic Operations Shawn Page said. "The statement that these students, that we've had decline are sitting at home, or are dropouts is not correct."
The district has now released new data to the public.
Contrary to the mayor's newsletter, according to MSCS, enrollment in schools comparing 2021-22 to this school year, both charter and non-charter schools have seen an increase of nearly 3,000 students.
"We are very encouraged right now by some of our enrollment data," Page said.
As it concerns truancy, earlier this month Strickland said during the 2020-21 school year there were over nine thousand truant students.
According to MSCS' new data during that school year, there were 5,242 students with ten or more unexcused absences.
But this is still an increase of a little over 3,000 within the last two school years.
The school district also said the notion that they haven't referred truancy cases to the juvenile justice system is a big misconception.
"The statement that we have not implemented truancy is not true," Page said. "We have actually implemented the state-mandated truancy processes. There's actually state law that requires all districts in Tennessee to follow certain processes and we've actually followed those."
According to MSCS, 426 children were referred to the juvenile court system in 2021 and 318 cases have been referred so far this year.
The district maintains while the numbers are important, they share the same goal and focus as the mayor, keeping children in school and off the streets.
"But we have done both, we have referred cases to juvenile court when we've needed to and we've supported families and removed barriers when we've needed to," Page said. "Strong healthy and resilient families do well in schools, they are successful in their communities, and they create that focus that we need to help support our students and the greater community."