Madeline Soto case: Osceola County School District changes absence notification calls

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — Osceola School District has made changes to its attendance call times to parents in the wake of the death of Madeline Soto in Late February.


The district said the new changes are to ensure a more proactive approach to enhancing the safety and security of all students and is especially important in situations where a student may be unexpectedly absent from school without prior notice.

“Teaching is first and foremost in the education system of course, but a child’s safety and welfare is on the parent’s mind as well,” said Joshua Sellards, Osceola County Parent.

Beginning on March 25th, attendance calls will go out on each day of school.

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-High school calls reflecting morning attendance in the first scheduled period will start going out at 9:00 a.m. Students who take morning dual enrollment will not be included because they have no first period where attendance is taken.

-Elementary school and New Beginnings Education Center attendance calls will start going out at 10:00 a.m.

-Middle school, K-8, and Osceola County School for the Arts attendance calls will start going out at 11:00 a.m.

-In the afternoon, high school calls reflecting attendance by period for the school day will go out at 3:45 p.m., except for Osceola County School for the Arts calls, which will go out at 5:00 p.m.

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The changes come on the heels of Orange County School District updating its calling schedule after the tragic death of 13-year-old Madeline Soto, whose mother said she wasn’t notified of her daughter’s absence until 6:00 p.m. the night she was reported missing.

“Unfortunately, it’s always something that comes from something like Amber Alerts. Something has to happen for something to happen,” said Damaris Llanos, Osceola County Parent.

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Osceola Schools also has a “Parent Portal” where parents can set up a free account. The district said the communication tool will improve the ability to assist your child and to speak with the teacher if wanted.

The portal will allow a parent to monitor their student’s progress by providing timely access to both assignments and grades that are entered by the teacher throughout the grading period.

Starting Monday, April 8th, Orange County Public Schools will start a new calling notification system for parents in the district.

“We definitely want to be proactive in what were doing to make sure that if there were ever a situation where we have a student that’s missing, we can find them as quickly as possible and make sure they arrive safely to their families, " Heather Kahoun, an Osceola County School Board chair said.

Kahoun added high school students were also a priority.

“The biggest change was ensuring that those first calls for our high school students were getting out in a much more timely and efficient manner,” she said.

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