Detroit schools face fines over truancy

Nov. 28, 2011 at 3:13 PM
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DETROIT, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Detroit Public Schools could be fined millions of dollars by state officials for persistent student truancy, documents reveal.

The Detroit News reported Monday the documents it obtained show the financially struggling school district could lose about $25.9 million because attendance fell below the state minimum of 75 percent on 46 days last school year.

But the actual fine will likely be much lower, the Michigan Department of Education said.

State officials say incomplete record keeping in Detroit, the state's biggest school district, makes it a challenge to determine how much to subtract from the city's per-pupil allotment for truancy.

Jan Ellis, a department spokeswoman, said her office and city school officials are reviewing attendance records before deducting any money.

State law requires all districts to have at least 75 percent attendance to receive full per-pupil allocation for each school day, and attendance below that level leads to a loss of funding.

The Detroit district receives about $7,390 for each of its estimated 66,000 students and lost $680,000 because of low attendance in the 2009-10 school year, the News said.

"While the forfeiture amount has yet to be determined, it is expected to be a fraction of the amount in question," Ellis said. "This issue involves classroom attendance record keeping, as well as student attendance."

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