School attendance dips on protest day

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - As protesters took to the streets Thursday, school attendance across Kern County was down.

Ana Cruz decided to pull her sons from school to march in Shafter in support of a "Day Without Immigrants." 

"I know that I'm taking them away from education, but in reality-" Cruz began before her young son, Gustavo interrupted her.

"This is more important, because we need justice!" the boy exclaimed with tears in his eyes.

Cruz felt the half-mile march between St. Therese's Church and Shafter's City Hall. 

Not all parents felt the same. Foothill High School father Raully Delarosa thought the protests were "dumb."

"[My son] wants his education, he doesn't want to miss out on any classes," said Delarosa.

Delarosa's son Christian, a student at Foothill High School told 17 News classes were "a bit empty" and "in general...just low."

Schools across Kern County felt the absences.

Dr. Tim Fulenwider of Bakersfield City School District said they saw a 17 percent drop in attendance Thursday from 95 percent to 78 percent. The most affected school was Sierra Middle School.

"That's certainly not the norm," Fulenwider told 17 News.

And BCSD was not alone.

Arvin Unified School District reported a whopping 42 percent absent rate Thursday, while their normal absent rate is closer to 3-4 percent.

To the north, Delano Union School District saw a quarter drop in attendance. Richland School District saw a higher than normal absent rate of 23 percent. Wasco Union School District had nearly 30 percent of its students absent.

And in the Kern High School District, officials say there were 2900 more absences than Wednesday when measuring third period. 

909 of those KHSD students were from Arvin High School, a mostly Latino school.

BCSD sent a note to parents Wednesday encouraging students to show up to school Thursday.

"I think we're just disappointed that some of our students are not with us today, and we look forward tomorrow and welcoming all of our students back," said Fulenwider.

While nearly all of the districts we spoke with said they had lower attendance Thursday, none of the districts we spoke with said the "Day Without Immigrants" was the direct cause of the absences.

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