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The Washington Post: Tardies at All DC Schools Would Not Count as Absences Under Proposed Law

January 6, 2016

Newly introduced by the DC Council, The School Attendance Clarification Amendment Act of 2015 makes changes to current truancy protocols in the District. In addition to undoing the city’s 80/20 rule it would prevent the suspension or expulsion of students for attendance issues. Rather than being referred to law enforcement, police would take minors who skipped class back to school.  

In a recent article about the legislation, The Washington Post referred to Children’s Law Center’s truancy report, which was released in 2015 in partnership with DC Lawyer for Youth.

On Tuesday, the council approved extending a temporary version of this legislation, which took effect at the beginning of the school year and applies only to high school students. Grosso’s latest proposal, which he introduced with Phil Mendelson (D), the council’s chairman, would apply to students of all ages. The council has scheduled a hearing on the legislation for Jan. 21.

More than half of the city’s high school students — 56 percent — were considered “chronically truant” during the 2013-2014 school year after accumulating more than 10 unexcused absences, according to a 2015 report from the Children’s Law Center and DC Lawyers for Youth.

Grosso argues that there are number of reasons why students might arrive late to school and that if they make the effort to get there for at least part of the day, they should not be deemed truant. The 2015 Children’s Law Center report recommended revising the 80/20 rule, saying it confused chronic tardiness with absenteeism, leading to inappropriate interventions.

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