Chronic Absenteeism in the School-Prison Nexus

This qualitative case study examines how attendance management practices are designed and implemented in a large urban school district and explores the empirical and conceptual relationship between student behavior and attendance management within the “school-prison nexus.” We use interviews with parents, high school students, and staff charged with reducing chronic absenteeism to demonstrate how managing students’ attendance through intervention plans, student monitoring, and threats of legal action have implicit and explicit parallels to the management of student behavior in schools and could be considered a potential mechanism through which the school-prison nexus functions. We conclude with implications for schools and districts as they seek ways to reduce chronic absenteeism without contributing to the over-surveillance and punishment of high school youth.