JCPS student attendance Friday low amid 'heightened security' - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS student attendance Friday low amid 'heightened security'

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The cafeteria during first period of lunch on Friday at PRP High (Submitted photo) The cafeteria during first period of lunch on Friday at PRP High (Submitted photo)
JCPS security level JCPS security level

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- More than half of the 101,000 students who attend Jefferson County Public Schools were absent on Friday amid heightened security at all of the district's schools.

By the end of the day -- the official attendance for Friday was 45.5 percent, the lowest in at least five years, according to district officials. That is down from the average 93.6 percent who attend school each day.

Superintendent Donna Hargens said Friday she was disappointed with the numbers, but she understands why some parents chose to keep their children home.

"I wish I could quantify the loss of learning taking place today," Hargens told reporters during a press conference. "I know the impact that learning has and we have a limited amount of days to impact our students. Whenever we don't have high attendance, that concerns me."

JCPS has a total enrollment of 101,243 for the 2015-16 school year.

Of that number, approximately 48,000 (or 47.5 percent) of those students are in middle and high school and the remaining 53,000 (approximately 52 percent of students) are in elementary school (prekindergarten through fifth grade).

"We know this is serious, to prevent this many kids from learning is a big deal," said Hargens, who added she hopes law enforcement officers will find the person responsible for making the vague threat on Wednesday.

Hargens said that the district's principals will individually review the absences to determine if they are excused.

JCPS spokeswoman Bonnie Hackbarth said there was no additional law enforcement presence in school buildings Friday.

Many parents and schools reported that school buses were less than half full as students arrived at school.

It has never happened before: all 155 JCPS schools are operating under Level 3 security Friday, which is one level higher than normal operations.

Area Catholic schools and local colleges and universities are also on heightened alert. 

A Level 3 security in JCPS means exterior doors to all schools will be locked at all times, outside activities will be canceled and hallway traffic will be minimized and monitored.

[HEIGHTENED SECURITY AT JCPS SCHOOLS: WHAT PARENTS SHOULD KNOW]

During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Michael Raisor, JCPS director of operations, said the threat had been received through the Louisville Metro Police tip line. He declined to elaborate further on the nature of the threat.

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Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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