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Absenteeism Gets Renewed Focus In D.C. Schools

WASHINGTON (AP) — Persistent problems with student absenteeism in D.C. Public Schools are receiving renewed attention following the disappearance of 8-year-old Relisha Rudd.

The Washington Post reports last year about 15,000 students missed more than 10 days of class without a valid excuse. That’s nearly a third of all students in the public school system. About 9,000 of them missed more than 20 days of unexcused absences.

Rudd loved school. But she accumulated more than 30 absences before a social worker alerted police.

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.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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