Dana Middle School looking to improve parent notification in wake of search for missing girls

Parents weren't notified child was absent
Posted at 6:42 PM, Oct 27, 2016

SAN DIEGO - A Point Loma school is looking at ways to do a better job of keeping track of its students after two girls skipped classes Wednesday, prompting a lengthy search.

The parents of one of the girls told San Diego police they did not know their child was missing until they tried to pick her up after school at Dana Middle School.

Officers searched for several hours before finding 9-year old Talia Norris and 10-year old Julissa Gadson at a museum in Old Town. The girls were safe.

Team 10 checked the San Diego Unified School District's website for attendance policies, and were not surprised to learn there are strict guidelines for taking accurate attendance and verifying any student absences.

Dana Middle School's own website says: "If you have not notified us of your child's absence, you will receive a call."

A parent told Team 10 the school usually does a good job of both calling and emailing to let parents know if their child misses school.

The principal declined to speak to Team 10 and referred 10News' investigative unit to a district spokesperson.

Jennifer Rodriguez with SD Unified responded via email: "The school site is using this event as an opportunity to reflect upon its current practices and identify ways it can improve the process of notifying parents. The school is exploring ways it can speed up the process of confirming student absences and has already set up its mass notification system to make automated calls daily to parents to clear unexcused absences."