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D.C. Public Schools Attempt Reduce Unexcused Absences

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By Kavitha Cardoza

Public school students in D.C. can accumulate 20 unexcused absences every year before being referred to Child and Family Services, but a proposal before the city council would cut that number in half.

When the Board of Education voted to increase the number from 10 to 20, its president, Lisa Raymond says members believed in-school interventions would be more effective. "So not to be as quick to send a child, to refer to another agency but to really try and deal with the issues at the school level where the school professionals will know the child, know the family and try and address the challenges," Raymond says.

But now, several council members want to return to the lower number for children between the ages of 5 and 13. Among them is Councilman Tommy Wells who says truancy was reduced by half when the 10 day rule was in effect during his time on the school board.

A city council vote in favor of the change would supersede the school board's decision.

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