Open navigation menu. Close navigation menu.

Washington Informer: Mayor Bowser Eyes Systemic Reset with New Truancy Bill

April 4, 2024

Sam Collins, of the Washington Informer, reports on the latest truancy bill, introduced by Mayor Bowser. The bill addresses chronic absenteeism and a bevy of other issues related to student safety and family engagement. 

Danielle Robinette, senior policy attorney with Children’s Law Center, said that Bowser and the D.C. Council are moving in the right direction by involving DHS in addressing the underlying causes of truancy. The agency, she said, could take on the case management that school-level personnel say they don’t have the capacity to handle.

When it comes to court involvement in truancy, Robinette cautioned against a heavy handed approach. She told The Informer that adjudication of youth can create barriers to attendance and undermine efforts to reverse truancy and chronic absenteeism.

Robinette said the same logic applies when it comes to suspensions and an alternative school setting. She questioned whether these provisions of the UPLIFT Amendment Act weaken the Student Fair Access to School Act.

In 2018, the council passed that bill without Bowser’s approval. It restricts the number of cumulative and consecutive days of out-of-school suspension that students could receive.

Robinette said that changing course and placing middle school students alongside high school students could become problematic.

“There’s a difference between a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old,” Robinette told The Informer. “I would definitely be concerned about expanding suspensions for middle school students… Anytime a student is removed, it’s a significant disruption to their education. It’s a form of school pushout, regardless of age.”