State to Fine Detroit Public Schools for High Truancy

Courtney Williams's picture
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

State officials are weighing how much to penalize Detroit Public Schools for persistent truancy, a problem that could cost the financially troubled district up to $25.9 million, according to documents obtained by The Detroit News.

In the past school year, attendance at DPS fell below the state minimum of 75 percent on 46 days. The district says it is bracing for a loss of the full amount, though the Michigan Department of Education expects a much lower final figure.

State officials say incomplete record-keeping by Michigan's largest school district is making it difficult to determine how much to subtract from DPS' per-pupil allotment.

Jan Ellis, a department spokeswoman, said her office is working with DPS to review attendance records before making any deductions. For 2009-10, DPS lost $680,000 to low attendance.

"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."

State law requires all districts to have at least 75 percent of students in school to receive their full per-pupil allocation for the day. Below that level, funding is withheld based on the number of absent students. DPS gets about $7,390 for each of its roughly 66,000 students.

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