On July 10, the Public Interest Law Center wrote a letter regarding possible changes to truancy policies in Philadelphia.
In the letter, which was sent to Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and Chief of Student Support Services for the Philadelphia School District Karyn Lynch, the Public Interest Law Center urged both offices to work together and use positive, supportive measures to keep students in school, as opposed to punitive measures, which have been proven to be ineffective in keeping kids in school. These measures also tend to be especially destructive towards students with disabilities.
We hope that Philadelphia will join the many other places that have moved toward using supportive measures to fight truancy, with much success, as shown by The Comeback States report. This report shows that states that decriminalize truancy are more likely to show an increase in truancy referrals to positive programs, such as parenting classes, counseling and foodbanks. They also show an overall decrease in poor attendance.
The Public Interest Law Center has volunteered to help assist in the beginning of a meaningful dialogue between these two offices in order to work towards increased student attendance.
Click here to read an Philadelphia Daily News article in which staff attorney Sonja Kerr was quoted about this issue.