D.C. Council passes anti-truancy bill

The D.C. Council on Tuesday gave final approval to a measure meant to reduce truancy in the city’s schools.

Under the legislation, police must send a letter notifying parents whose children reach 10 unexcused absences that they are at risk of criminal prosecution.

Older children ages 14 to 17 will be referred to court social services and the attorney general’s office if they accumulate 15 absences.

The bill’s sponsor, David A. Catania (I-At Large), had originally proposed mandatory prosecution of all parents whose children reach 20 unexcused absences. Catania agreed to strip that provision after it triggered fierce opposition from council members, student and family advocates and officials in the Gray administration.

The council also on Tuesday gave unanimous preliminary approval to a measure that would make it illegal for school staff to cheat on citywide standardized tests.

That bill comes on the heels of persistent allegations that widespread cheating may have inflated test scores in recent years. The council is expected to take a second and final vote on the bill at its June 25 legislative meeting.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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