Between 10,000 and 20,000 students are missing from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) enrollment rosters—just two weeks before the start of the 2022–23 school year.
District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said last week at a press conference the number of students unaccounted for is likely due to obstacles that block them from attending school, such as a lack of transportation, an LAUSD spokesperson confirmed to The Epoch Times.
The superintendent said some of the students he reached out to told him their siblings were not in attendance at school for much of last year too.
“Some revealed that they themselves were caring for their younger siblings and that they themselves were working one, two jobs,” Carvalho said. “And they told me of many other kids who are in the same condition. That’s just not acceptable.”
He said he also planned to work with LA County to connect families to food, housing, legal support, and transportation, as well as social services such as therapy, grief counseling, and substance abuse treatment.
The district’s chronic absenteeism last year was also likely exacerbated by its strict COVID-19 protocols, which included a mask mandate for all students and staff, weekly testing for unvaccinated students, which required asymptomatic students in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case to quarantine at home for 5 to 10 days.
Another reason for the missing enrolled students was that many parents are choosing to enroll their students elsewhere or choosing to homeschool without notifying the LAUSD of their decision, Carvalho said at a July 24 press conference.
“Parents are taking their time to file the documents,” Carvalho said.
In 2020, the number of California families filing homeschool affidavits rose from 15,000 to 35,000—though that number fell last year to about 25,000 as schools reopen.
This comes as the district faces a looming enrollment crisis. Student enrollment in LAUSD has been falling at a rate of about 2.8 percent per year since it hit its enrollment peak with 737,000 students in 2002.