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D.C. Council Considers Proposal To Reduce Unexcused Absences In Schools

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By Kavitha Cardoza

The D.C. council is considering a proposal to reduce the number of unexcused absences students can have before authorities investigate.

Children in D.C. public schools can have 20 total days of unexcused absences within a school year before a referral is made to Child and Family services. At least seven council members support changes to the District's truancy regulations; they want children between the ages of five and 13 to have just 10 unexcused absences within a school year before authorities are contacted.

Council member Tommy Wells says truancy can be an early indicator that a child is having problems. "This is part of the safety net of keeping children safe, holding parents accountable for seeing that their children are not getting into mischief," says Wells.

Wells says in Minnesota, the state was required to intervene after seven unexcused absences and a year later studies showed more than 70 percent had improved school attendance.

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