To clarify my position on the Truancy legislation pending before the council, my previous statement was written in response to the bill and bill summary distributed by councilmembers, available via http://lims.dccouncil.us and covered by the Washington Post. I stand 100% behind it.
I am 100% behind providing a greater degree of flexibility to LEAs to determine if and when students and their families are referred to the court system. Though, I am sensitive to the unfortunate event that occurred in Ward 6 a few years ago when a student who was chronically truant disappeared. While the South Capitol Street Legislation may have moved us to far into a punitive system of punishing students/families who are tardy/absent/truant, we do need to have strong safeguards to prevent similar tragedies. The legislative summary, bill text, and coverage by the Post is of legislation that fails to provide those safeguards.
Additionally, we’re missing from this debate an admission that the City has failed to provide schools and LEAs the supports to make the necessary investments in truancy prevention under the South Capitol Street Act. We have not adequately invested in the technology needed to properly record and track tardy/absences, we have failed to ensure the legislation was implemented uniformly, we have failed to provide consultations as required under the law, and we have failed to provide funding for proven anti-truancy programs to the necessary degree. The debate, if we are to close the “schools to prison pipeline” needs to be about how we improve attendance and academic success and graduation that follows.
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