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D.C. Tries To Find Solutions For 20 Percent Truancy Rate

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D.C. Chief of Police Cathy Lanier (front, left); State Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley(front, center); and DCPS acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson (front, right).
Kavitha Cardoza
D.C. Chief of Police Cathy Lanier (front, left); State Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley(front, center); and DCPS acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson (front, right).

Hosanna Mahaley is the District's state superintendent of education.

"Last year, nearly 12,000 -- that is 20 percent public school children across the Distict of Columbia -- were truant for 15 days or more," she says.

Mahaley says these students are more likely to drop out of school, use drugs and commit crimes.

And D.C.'s chief of police, Cathy Lanier, agrees. She says there are 14 truancy officers, and sometimes they find these students in the middle of them committing a crime.

"Our single biggest issue with truants right now is burglaries. During the day, when they're truant form school, they're out engaging in criminal activity," Lanier says.

D.C. is trying to develop an ad campaign to encourage children and families to realize the value of being in school.

That could be challenging.

Experts say the reasons for skipping school vary, from mental health and family issues to students being bored with school and not being able to keep up academically.

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