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New attendance policy in Detroit Public Schools

The Detroit Public Schools is tightening up its district-wide attendance policy this school year.

The policy is centered around what the district calls a “3-6-9 approach

Superintendent of academics Karen Ridgeway says the idea is pretty simple.

“There’s a reason for absences. Our whole initiative around 3-6-9 is to find out what that reason is, and to deal with that reason.”

Ridgeway says interventions begin when a child has a third unexcused absence from school.

It escalates from notifying parents to visits from attendance agents—who will come equipped with referrals to the Michigan Department of Human Services, if necessary.

Ridgeway says the agents will look for challenges students might face. Students might face transportation issues, or might be acting as the caretaker for a relative.

“We’re going to look at every challenge for that household individually, and try to find the appropriate resources to address those challenges,” Ridgeway says.

After the ninth absence, the family will be referred to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office. Ridgeway says it will be their decision whether to prosecute parents for truancy.

Under state law, parents of chronically truant children can get up to 90 days in jail.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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