Incentive to boost Bryan school attendance leaves parents asking why

KBTX

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - An incentive to boost student attendance at a Bryan school has some parents asking why.

KBTX received multiple calls and messages Thursday about a telephone recording sent to parents of Crockett Elementary students.

The recording said, "Each student that was present at school on Thursday, February 16th, will have Hot Cheetos on Friday. Thank you for continuing to support your child's education."

Some parents told KBTX they saw this as a way to discourage and punish participation in the "Day Without Immigrants" protests.

A Bryan ISD spokesman told KBTX, however, it was not a way to oppose the protest, and wasn't communicated as such to parents.
He said Bryan ISD has been trying to raise attendance since student illness has lowered their numbers recently.

KBTX checked with the Brazos County Health Department to see when it's safe for sick children to return to class.

"If your child is sick, your child takes priority. So it's time to let them stay home and get rest. Once you're fever-free for 24 hours, that's the golden mark. 24 hours without antipyretics like Tylenol, Advil, without fever, then you know you're safe to go back," said Julie Anderson, Director of Community Health Services at the Brazos County Health Department.

A spokesman with College Station ISD said schools there haven't really offered incentives for student attendance since their numbers have been above average recently. He said they do offer awards for perfect attendance as other districts do.

Thursday night, KBTX received a copy of an email sent from Crockett Elementary's principal, Debi Ehrhardt, to teachers.

It said the school did have a lot of kids out participating in "Immigrant Walk Out day." In the email, Ehrhardt said they offered Hot Cheetos to encourage student attendance.

A Bryan ISD spokesman said Friday, "All attendance incentives, which are offered throughout the year at all campuses, are designed to encourage children to be at school, where they have the best opportunity to learn. Attendance incentives this week were offered across the entire district, not just at one school. The incentives were intended to boost attendance at the end of the week--Thursday and Friday.

Our focus is on learning, achievement and success for all, and being at school offers students the best opportunity to experience those results," said Brandon Webb, Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs for Bryan ISD