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D.C. Board of Ed Adopts New Truancy Policy

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Many large school districts across the country grapple with the issue of truancy and the District of Columbia is no different. It has nearly a 20 percent rate of students who regularly skip school. Last night the state board of education adjusted how schools in the city must deal with truant children.

By a 3-2 vote, D.C.'s State Board of Education adopted new truancy policies but not before a heated debate, spearheaded, for the most part, by Ward 8 board member William Lockridge. At issue was a new rule that will allow schools the option of referring chronically truant children to the juvenile justice system and a probation officer.

Lockridge and Ward 7's Dorothy Douglas said they didn't see why the court system had to be involved at all and after the close vote, Lockridge had had enough.

Lockridge then walked out of the special meeting but the vote means the new rules will go into effect as soon as theyre published in the DC register in the next few months.

State Superintendent Kerri Briggs says the new truancy policy is for the first time, written to clearly apply to both DC Public Schools and public charter schools in the district.

In some ways the new policy is also more lenient instead of requiring schools to take action after 15 days of unexcused absences during the year, they'll now have to intervene after 25 days.

Jonathan Wilson reports...

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