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Truancy crackdown gaining steam 

Rochester Mayor Tom Richards is proposing that the city kick-in $15,000 to support the school district's new initiative to battle chronic truancy. That would be matched by $15,000 from the school district, and $10,000 from United Way. City Council will begin vetting the proposal next week.

Poor attendance and high truancy rates are widely believed to play a role in the district's consistently low graduation rate. Many students miss so much instruction that they cannot perform at grade level in core subjects without remedial help, but addressing the problem has been difficult.

The district is working with Program Design and Development, a consulting firm to public schools and municipalities, and Karl Bertrand on the new truancy program. Bertrand developed what is known as the "Yonkers Model," a comprehensive approach to chronic truancy that involves agencies outside the school district -- including the city and the United Way.

The legislation proposed by Richards says that PDD will assist with developing "a formal educational neglect reporting process" with the Monroe County Department of Human Services, identifying community resources for chronic truants and their families, developing a formal "truancy response protocol," for school personnel, and other tasks.

District and city officials will meet later today to discuss the next steps for the truancy program.

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