Absenteeism Gets Renewed Focus in D.C. Schools

The disappearance of eight-year-oldRelisha Rudd

is putting a face on the issue of absentee kids in D.C. schools.

Rudd missed more than 30 days of school before a social worker alerted police. Andaccording to the Washington Post

, nearly a third of public school students in the city had at least 10 unexcused absences last year.

About 15,000 students missed more than 10 days of class without a valid excuse, the Post reported. That's nearly a third of all students in the public school system. About 9,000 of them missed more than 20 days of unexcused absences

The school system has hired more staff and implemented new programs devoted to reducing absenteeism. Data shows signs of progress at the elementary level.

Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson credits the D.C. Council for requiring schools to track and confront absenteeism. But she says schools can't solve the problem alone.

Rudd is still missing and hasn't been seen since early March. The key suspect took his own life last month.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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