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The District defines chronically truant students as those who accumulate 15 or more unexcused absences.

Last year, about 23 percent of secondary-school students and 12 percent of elementary students were chronically truant, compared to about 28 percent of secondary-school students and 16 percent of elementary students the year before.

Former schools Superintendent Clifford B. Janey prioritized truancy after the school system reported to the federal government that nearly a quarter of students were truant during the 2003-04 school year.

However, some school principals expressed concerns that the numbers were being reported incorrectly. A review of the data by The Washington Times found in 2005 that truancy numbers were inconsistent with the school system’s enrollment, with at least one school reporting more truants than enrolled students.