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Truancy in District Poses Uphill Battle

Dorothy Rowley | 5/4/2011, 6:24 p.m.
Part One in a Two Part Series...
District officials recommend training programs rather than processing truant students at police stations. / Courtesy photo

"We've also been looking at the relationship between grade point averages and attendance and not surprisingly, what we're finding is the less students attend school, the worse their grades are," Filardo said. "So, if they don't go to school, they're on their way to dropping out."

Since many truant students tend to mill around neighborhood stores, legislation introduced last month to the D.C. City Council by At-Large Council member Sekou Biddle, targets the business community for support.

Biddle, 39, was defeated in the April 26 special election and Brown surmised that either the D.C. City Council's Committee of the Whole or the Council's Safety Committee could take up the proposal. The legislation would require signs be posted inside businessesalerting students that they won't be served during school hours.

In addition to other possible participants, Metro - which earlier this year reported several incidents of crime that are believed to have involved youth - is expected to jump on the bandwagon.

A youth who said he attends Ballou Senior High School in Southeast and identified himself as Necaro Jones,16, said that although he is aware that initiatives to fight truancy are necessary, he believes officials will find themselves hard-pressed to win.

"I know students who don't go to school because they think it's better to hang out with their friends and smoke cigarettes and drink beer," Necaro said.

"If it's cool with their parents, how are [officials planning] to deal with that," he wondered.