DC mayor unveils bill to address chronic truancy – NBC4 Washington

D.C.’s mayor unveiled legislation Wednesday intended to curb chronic truancy in the District.

More than a third of D.C. students are missing too much school, according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, which considers students chronically truant if they have 10 or more unexcused absences.

Under Mayor Muriel Bowser’s UPLIFT Act, there would be a mandatory family meeting with the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services when a child is charged with a violent crime. There would also be family support from the Department of Human Services for truant students.

“To help support families as they navigate their students’ attendance and helps all families understand their students’ need to be in school every single day,” Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn.

In the fall, Ballou High School senior Montez Hardy told the News4 I-Team just getting to and from school can be dangerous.

“Everybody knows D.C.’s dangerous sometimes,” he said.

Bowser’s bill creates an option for students in grades six through 12 who are involved in a “serious incident” to be sent to a different school temporarily.

Also, fewer youth would be eligible for diversion services after being charged with a violent crime.

“We believe in diversion; we believe that it’s appropriate for certain young people,” Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Lindsey Appiah said. “But we are seeing an increase in young people who are involved in more serious crime, and dangerous and violent crime, and gun crime.”

The mayor’s office says the goal is to “increase parental accountability” but not in the form of legal consequences.

“This is about helping young people and keeping our city safe,” Appiah said.

In 2023, D.C. police charged 150 juveniles with armed carjacking and 189 with assault.

Last week, D.C. police arrested three girls, ages 12 and 13, who allegedly beat a handicapped man to death. Prosecutors say 64-year-old Reggie Brown didn’t know his attackers and tried to get away before he was killed.

Several D.C. Council members also drafted bills to tackle youth truancy and crime. All the bills have to go through public hearings, which likely will take months.

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