500 teachers, thousands of students are
Arizona Daily Star
Apr. 11, 2006
Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/124067
Nearly 15,000 students and at least 500 classroom teachers were absent Monday, leaving some local schools with less than half their normal attendance and one school missing its entire faculty.
But officials stressed that to the best of their ability, the school day went on as normal.
The largest impact from the immigration protests was on Tucson High Magnet School, 400 N. Second Ave. There, 1,500 of the school's 2,600 students were absent, with 200 more walking out Monday morning. Forty-six teachers were absent.
At Davis Bilingual Magnet School, 500 W. St. Mary's Road, the entire staff of 19 teachers took off and substitutes were brought in to cover their classes.
"I think it's a well-educated staff," Davis Principal Christopher Loya said about the faculty absences. "These are people who know the issues, and they are also activists. All teachers are activists."
For the most part, students opted to just skip school rather than walk out as they had in student walkouts in late March. Part of the reason was the different nature of Monday's protest, where many students joined their families to march. But there were still some small walkouts at Rincon, Cholla and Pueblo high schools. Estimates for student and teacher participation in Monday's rally did not take into account people who may have protested from the many independently run local charter schools.
Many traditional schools were left with fewer students and 30 or more with missing teachers.
Despite the huge number of absentees, school officials played up the work they had done in preparing for the protest. The Tucson Unified School District, in particular, spent considerable time last week preparing privately for Monday's effect on schools and urging students and their parents not to miss school.
With nearly 20 percent of students in the largest district absent, those efforts didn't appear to have had a huge impact. District officials, however, said there could have been even more students out if they hadn't urged them to stay in school. The district was still confirming the typical Monday absentee rate but believed it may have been around 4,000 — or 7 percent.
The most normal school day at a centrally located high school Monday may have been at Amphitheater, 125 W. Yavapai Road, in Amphitheater Public Schools. Despite previous walkouts, teachers and students came to school as normal, said Principal Patsy Harris.
"We made a big personal plea," especially to teachers, said Harris. If the faculty had not come to school, "it would be tacky" to expect students to attend, she said.
Sunnyside Unified School District had nearly 3,000 absent students compared with less than half that the previous Monday.
Two districts — Flowing Wells and Marana — are off this week for spring break. TUSD will be off later in the week.
● Contact reporter Daniel Scarpinato at 573-4195 or firstname.lastname@example.org.