Changes to school meals and absence policies likely to impact many CMS students

CHARLOTTE — As the new school year kicks off, changes to some Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ policies will impact the district’s 140,000 students.


This school year, the district is stressing the importance of good attendance to ensure academic success.

District leaders say if a student misses 10 days of class they automatically get an F, regardless of their grades or performance. That is a policy that was in place before the pandemic, and interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh said it shows the district expects students to be in attendance.

Hattabaugh says the district wants to focus on student achievement and show increases in reading, math, and other metrics. He says some students have missed months’ worth of classes in the past.

“We won’t get there if we allow students to miss 80, 90 days of school, which occurred,” Hattabaugh said. “That’s no longer going to take effect; this is a policy that has been in place prior, and we’re going to ensure that everybody adheres to it.”

Hattabaugh said the district will use “common sense” and follow protocols if a student has COVID-19. He also said students do have an opportunity to make up the hours they missed to avoid getting an F.

“We have to send a message that we cannot move the dial on student achievement if kids stay home, and we’re expecting teachers to be ready to provide great instruction,” Hattabaugh said. “It’s not gonna work if we have empty seats.”

>>> In the video at the top of this page, Channel 9′s Gina Esposito reports on the serious attendance problem that sparked the policy return.

School Meals

CMS serves about 100,000 meals to students daily, but some families might struggle to afford those meals after a federal waiver offering free or reduced lunch ended.

>>> In the video above, Channel 9 looks at which students can still get free meals and how the community can help ensure no one goes hungry.

(WATCH BELOW: New year, new school for some students in CMS)