There’s a lot of empty desks in Dallas Independent School District.
Immunizations and registration are the two biggest issues keeping kids out of the classroom on the first day back to school. It’s costing kids valuable education time and taxpayers money.
“We thank you for the opportunity to serve our kids,” says Holmes Middle School Principal Barbara Moham. She and the staff at the brand new school started the first day with a prayer before students arrived, then the back-to-school chaos began.
“The biggest challenge will be making sure all of our boys and girls feel comfortable and feel at home,” says Moham.
“Pretty exciting to see all my friends again,” says seventh grade student Aaron Valles.
School leaders say hundreds of Holmes middle schoolers aren’t registered ahead of time and had to fill out paperwork on the first day.
“Gotta make sure everything is transferred,” said Valles’ great uncle Johnny Juarez.
In a district of 157,000 kids, an estimated 20 percent -- around 30,000 students -- will skip the first day of school.
“We know if the kids don’t come to school, we can’t teach them,” says new superintendent Mike Miles.
Miles spent time visiting the new school Monday morning. He says despite emails, phone calls and an ad campaign to parents, many procrastinate and wait until the last minute to have their kids immunized. Instead of sitting in class, they’re sitting in line for shots at the health department.
“It does cost about $40 per kid per day, if the kids don’t come,” says Miles.
Gilbert Pena planned to be punctual with his daughter.
"Traffic was backed up for blocks. Buses dropped students off late and in the wrong spot, which made it tough to make the bell on time,” says Pena.
“It’s a beautiful school. We had to walk a half mile to get to school,” says Pena.
The superintendent is planning to have a news conference at 4 p.m. Monday to talk about how the first day of school went and how many students missed school.