Reading articles and opinions about absenteeism in D.C. Public Schools tells me that some things haven’t changed [“Don’t lower the bar for Ballou students,” Local Opinions, Feb. 4, and others]. In 1999, when I retired, and for many of my 29 years as a social studies and English teacher at Dunbar High School, the absence rate in my classes, tragically, was about 30 percent. My failure rate was about 30 percent. Administrators would sadly concur: If they weren’t there, they couldn’t pass.

But some of those students who missed 30 percent or even more of the school year did pass. We didn’t have a “credit recovery” program, but many teachers were available before and after school and during the lunch period to work with failing students. Some failing students, when they did appear, would sit most of the day and work in the classrooms of teachers of required courses. We also worked with them after school was officially over but before grades were submitted. My requirements for a D or C were to complete 75 percent of the work in my presence, pass the tests and submit major writing assignments, if applicable. Please don’t condemn all of us.

And please don’t judge the students. If you want to know more about the pitiful attendance rate, ask a social worker. High school careers are often interrupted by street violence, homelessness, health issues and family responsibilities. Still, in those years, some Dunbar students won scholarships and attended the very finest universities and colleges.

Lynn Kearney, Arlington