Chronically Absent DC Students Get A Get-Out-Of-School-Free Card

Rob Shimshock | Education Reporter

The D.C. Council passed an emergency measure Tuesday allowing seniors at D.C. Public Schools to graduate even if they have missed more than six weeks of school.

Democratic council member Brandon T. Todd, an ally of Democratic Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, cast the sole vote against the proposal, reported The Washington Post. Bowser may still sign the legislation, as she has not vetoed any bills passed by the council since assuming office in January 2015.

The mayor did not comment on the measure, but has noted its opposition in the past. Bowser’s office directed WaPo to a statement from D.C. Interim Deputy Mayor for Education Ahnna Smith.

“This emergency legislation undermines [the school system’s] efforts and sends a troubling message about the importance of school attendance, suggesting that students need a waiver to excuse absences,” Smith said. “We will continue to stress the importance of attendance because every day counts.”

Council advocates for the legislation, which is projected to impact 26 seniors, think the district should not punish students for errors made by the school system.

“There are students who were operating under attendance policies articulated to them by their schools,” Democratic council member Robert C. White Jr., who co-introduced the measure, told WaPo. “They should not be the scapegoat for a misstep” by D.C. Public Schools.

The district anticipates that 46 percent of its seniors will graduate in June. This figure does not account for students whose attendance records were modified without authorization, which teachers at Roosevelt High School discovered earlier in June. For comparison, the national graduation rate was 84 percent for the 2015-2016 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics(RELATED: UNSAFE: Nearly Half Of DC’s Classroom Doors Don’t Lock)

D.C. Public Schools has also received scrutiny for the absence of locks on nearly half of its classroom doors.

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