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New schools chief aims to end high truancy in D.C.

(Published August 14, 2000)

By BRAD MARTIN

Staff Writer

The D.C. public school system has devised a plan officials hope will stop students from skipping any more school days.

Superintendent Paul L. Vance and others kicked off "Attendance Awareness Month" Aug. 3 with a message for students and their parents: good attendance equals academic success.

"If we are going to show improvement, we need 100 percent attendance," Deputy Superintendent Elois Brooks said.

Throughout D.C. high schools last year nearly 14 percent of all students didnít make it to school on a daily basis, officials said. Overall for the last school year the average daily attendance throughout the system was around 92 percent.

The new superintendent has a plan to achieve a 100 percent attendance goal by strengthening two important attendance areas, he said.

First, every school will have a new phone system installed that will be able to keep track of who is not in attendance on a particular day. The phone system then calls a pre-designated number to automatically inform a family member of a studentís absence from school.

According to Brooks the other area that will be supported this year will be parent and student awareness. The school system will pass out pamphlets and other informative announcements explaining everything from how to prevent absenteeism from happening to why a student should attend school every day.

To help with the wide variety of studentsí nationalities in D.C. Public Schools, the pamphlets will be available in six different languages -- English, Spanish, French, Amharic, Vietnamese and Chinese.

"A childís attendance in school is not everything Ė it is the only thing," Vance stressed.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator