Thousands of DC Students Still Unaccounted For at Start of School Year

Preliminary numbers indicate that the number of students who haven't enrolled in D.C. public or charter schools this year has doubled

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As students return to the classroom, either virtually or in person, thousands of students in the District still have not been accounted for.

It's important to note that these are very preliminary numbers, but what they reveal is that the number of students who haven't enrolled in D.C. public or charter schools this year, compared to normal years, has doubled.

D.C. traditional public school started two weeks ago with all-virtual learning.
Charter schools are also in the first weeks of classes.

Paul Kihn, the District's deputy mayor for education, tells News4 there are about 99,000 students in D.C. public schools, both traditional and charter. About 22,000 have either not enrolled at all or haven't completed the registration process. That's twice the normal number.

"We know families are experiencing different barriers in terms of getting their kids registered and enrolled," Kihn said.

The gap is spread out equally between traditional and charter schools and across all eight wards of the District.

"Right now, we don't see a pattern," he said.

A spokesperson for KIPP Academy, the largest operator of charter schools in D.C. with almost 7,000 students, tells News4 that while they have 100 percent enrollment, they have about 40 students who have not yet attended virtual classes whom they are still trying to contact.

Kihn says that for parents having problems enrolling for whatever reason, there is help.

"The first point of contact for any family that's having any trouble with enrollment is their school, and the schools have stood up all kinds of support services including even some in-person opportunities that are safe from a health perspective for families to drop off forms," Kihn said.

Kihn said they have been looking at attendance numbers for the first few weeks, and in some instances the attendance is above 100 percent, indicating that some students who have not completed the enrollment process are actually showing up for classes.

"School is in session," he said. "It's critical that families enroll and complete the enrollment process."

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