Executive Director Judith Sandalow testified before the DC Council Committee on Education and Committee of the Whole regarding the School Attendance Clarification Amendment Act of 2015. The bill clarifies school agency responsibilities and attendance reporting requirements, requires schools to obtain written explanation of absences within five days of students’ return and prohibits suspension, expulsion, or unenrollment of minors covered by DC’s compulsory attendance requirement due to an unexcused absence or tardiness. The bill also amends protocol for police officers encountering a suspected truant minor and schools’ referral requirement for CFSA, Court Social Services (CSS), and the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) upon a specified number of unexcused absences.
In addition to highlighting the important positive changes the proposed bill would make, Judith offers recommendations to further improve the bill, including:
- Requiring schools to open their doors to any student, regardless of whether a police escort is present;
- Ensuring full funding and staffing in schools to comply with truancy interventions required by current law;
- Eliminating all referrals to CFSA, CSS or the OAG; and
- Requiring the collection of data on outcomes of students referred to CFSA, CSS or the OAG, as well as data on common barriers to school attendance.
Click below to read her full testimony.