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Truancy Remains A Challenge For D.C. Schools

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Persistent problems with student absenteeism in D.C. public schools are receiving renewed attention following the disappearance of 8-year-old Relisha Rudd.

Last year about 15,000 students — or nearly one-third of all the students in the public school system — missed more than 10 days of class without a valid excuse. That's according to The Washington Post, which analyzed truancy data.

Research shows that students who miss more than 10 percent of school — or 18 days of class — are more likely to drop out. Statistics show 9,000 students missed more than 20 days class.

In recent years, the school system has hired more staff and implemented new programs devoted to reducing absenteeism. Data shows signs of progress at the elementary level.

Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson credits the D.C. Council for requiring schools to track and confront absenteeism, but she says schools can't solve the problem alone.

Authorities say Relisha Rudd — who is still missing — enjoyed going to school but she accumulated more than 30 absences before a social worker alerted police.

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