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Thread: 13 Year Old Piano Prodigy Treated As Truant By Public School System

  1. #171
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    Re: 13 Year Old Piano Prodigy Treated As Truant By Public School System

    Quote Originally Posted by lizzie View Post
    My thoughts? If she were my child, she'd be in a private school, or home-schooled with private tutors, so that she could let her amazing talent develop to its maximum potential. What a wonderful thing to see.
    Statement from Chancellor Henderson Regarding Inaccuracies in Petula Dvorak Washington Post Column - DC Public Schools, Washington, DC

    "Statement from Chancellor Henderson Regarding Inaccuracies in Petula Dvorak Washington Post Column

    .
    Contact: Melissa Salmanowitz (DCPS) | 202-535-1096 | Contact Email

    District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Kaya Henderson released the following statement highlighting inaccuracies in Petula Dvorak's column in today’s Washington Post. DCPS is hopeful Avery will return to her school very soon:

    The recent Washington Post column by Petula Dvorak titled "In D.C., a 13-year-old piano prodigy is treated as a truant instead of a star student” is inaccurate and misleading in its portrayal of the District of Columbia Public Schools' (DCPS) truancy protocols, as well as what happened with the family and DCPS. We are disappointed Ms. Dvorak chose to present a false representation of DCPS’ response about this child’s circumstances rather than taking the time to collect the relevant facts. We believe it is important to set the record straight:

    DCPS excused Avery’s absences for international travel last year after conversations with the family and her school, which was confirmed with Avery’s parents by Andrea Allen, Director of Attendance and Support Services in DCPS’ Office of Youth Engagement. Her attendance summary from last year reflects the “authorized school activity” excuse code for her performance–related absences.
    DCPS did not make a referral to a truancy officer, Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) nor any government agency for intervention, since we had clear information regarding the circumstances of these absences. The family was never at risk for truancy prosecution.
    No DCPS student is ever labeled or identified as a “truant” on a transcript, report card, or academic record.
    While DCPS has universal truancy policies in place, we work diligently to recognize unique situations.
    It seems that in this matter, while DCPS was working with the family to excuse the student’s absences, the automatic letter that is generated when a student reaches ten unexcused absences was sent. After a conversation with the Office of Youth Engagement, the family was told to disregard the letter. We also confirmed by phone for the parents that no CFSA referral had been completed, nor would this escalate any further. We believed our communication with the family as recently as August 25 clarified that Avery’s absences had been excused. We were surprised to learn that this is the reason why Avery was voluntarily withdrawn from her school. We sincerely apologize for any confusion that the cross-communication might have conveyed.

    We recognize that Avery’s circumstances are unique, and we’ve worked closely with her family to support this specific situation. Last year, for example, DCPS ensured that Avery was able to take high school level math courses to meet her academic needs. School staff was aware that Avery’s travel schedule would result in an accrual of absences, and worked to ensure completion of key school assignments during her travels. We are very proud of Avery’s accomplishments throughout her entire educational career as a DC public school student, and we are hopeful that her parents will enroll her back at her back at Deal Middle School soon.

    This is also an opportunity to clarify and provide insight about truancy in DCPS. Truancy laws are explicit to ensure consistent in-seat attendance in school, as well as to provide a safety net for students who are not attending school, and may be in harm’s way. Our schools notify families, usually with an automated phone call, after the first unexcused absence. Automated letters are sent from the school to families after a student accrues five, seven and ten unexcused absences. The letter shares details about the law and attendance requirements for students. If a student from age five to 13 accrues ten unexcused absences, schools are required to report those absences to CFSA. When schools contact CFSA, they provide the details they know that may have contributed to the student’s unexcused absences. CFSA proceeds accordingly, contacting the family to understand why the student was absent. In cases when CFSA determines that the absences are not cause for concern and the child is safe, no further action is taken.

    While the law is very clearly defined, it is important to recognize the relationships schools have with families. They often know about extenuating circumstances that may lead to a student acquiring absences. Schools are obligated to report these unexcused absences to ensure compliance with the law. We also have the flexibility to excuse, in certain situations, extenuating circumstances, which we did for this student. As we continue to work to make improvements in enforcing truancy protocols, the lesson here is the need for better and more timely communication. However, we take very seriously our dual responsibility to protect and support all students, in all parts of this city. The law, and the resulting protocols, ensures critical checks and balances to protect our city’s young people. "

  2. #172
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    Re: 13 Year Old Piano Prodigy Treated As Truant By Public School System

    Quote Originally Posted by FreedomFromAll View Post
    Yes lets just gloss over the fact that Petula Dvorak's column was inaccurate.

    "It seems that in this matter, while DCPS was working with the family to excuse the student’s absences, the automatic letter that is generated when a student reaches ten unexcused absences was sent. After a conversation with the Office of Youth Engagement, the family was told to disregard the letter. We also confirmed by phone for the parents that no CFSA referral had been completed, nor would this escalate any further. We believed our communication with the family as recently as August 25 clarified that Avery’s absences had been excused. We were surprised to learn that this is the reason why Avery was voluntarily withdrawn from her school. We sincerely apologize for any confusion that the cross-communication might have conveyed." Statement from Chancellor Henderson Regarding Inaccuracies in Petula Dvorak Washington Post Column - DC Public Schools, Washington, DC

    The parents over reacted to a a letter despite the communications of the school with the parents. It was like receiving a utility bill that hasnt shown your latest payment and then freaking out over it. There was never a actual problem, the student was never considered a truancy problem. Just one letter was sent automatically then the staff reacted and fixed the automated letter. There was no reason to write the inaccurate story. The whole thing was blown out of portion by whinny parents that over reacted over a letter that was dismissed and meaningless automated and invalid.

    "We recognize that Avery’s circumstances are unique, and we’ve worked closely with her family to support this specific situation. Last year, for example, DCPS ensured that Avery was able to take high school level math courses to meet her academic needs. School staff was aware that Avery’s travel schedule would result in an accrual of absences, and worked to ensure completion of key school assignments during her travels. We are very proud of Avery’s accomplishments throughout her entire educational career as a DC public school student, and we are hopeful that her parents will enroll her back at her back at Deal Middle School soon. "

    There wasnt any zero tolerance in this case at all. The pages and pages of this thread where people are getting all worked up are all for naught. All that happened was a letter was sent that was invalid and was treated as invalid. That isnt a broken system.

    I guess that you did not read this part?

    "DCPS did not make a referral to a truancy officer, Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) nor any government agency for intervention, since we had clear information regarding the circumstances of these absences. The family was never at risk for truancy prosecution. "
    No, I didn't miss those things at all. I'm saying that the school has an issue with their program or whatever they are using to send out notices about truancy when someone reaches 10 unexcused absences, particularly if they aren't even really doing anything about it anyway. They need to stop trying to scare parents with an overload of letters and phone calls that essentially threats that they will do something, especially if they have already accounted for the student as not really being unexcused or close to truant. That is the issue I have with this. They are unwilling to take responsibility for their program/system and actually change it so that this doesn't happen. Instead, they make excuses saying "well it was a miscommunication", when really it was their system (unless they are lying about this).
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  3. #173
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    Re: 13 Year Old Piano Prodigy Treated As Truant By Public School System

    Quote Originally Posted by roguenuke View Post
    Wait, what? Why would CPS be involved here, in this specific case? We are talking about the school system being the issue, not CPS. The school district is the one that is sending the letters out and making the phone calls about truancy. In this case, not only were the absences excused, according to the school, so they shouldn't have triggered the automated system to begin with, the system also seems to be sending out excessive notifications, since they said this happened multiple times not only for the end of the school year, but also over the summer. Why would the school set up a system like that to begin with? What is the point in having a system automatically notify parents over and over again after their child reaches 10 unexcused absences of potential consequences of the situation? I'm willing to bet that there was some sort of mistake made here by the school in how her absences were recorded, but if they are really working with parents, that means they need to actually work out their systems.

    How many students does the school really have "truant" throughout the year, particularly a Middle School? Considering what the Chancellor put out it doesn't sound like it is that many that they really need an automated system to deal with this issue. An automated system is overkill for this, as is evidenced by the amount of phone calls and letters the family claims to have received from the school about truancy.
    It was DCPS, not CPS. You're right about that, but the same thing applies.

    And in a perfect world, their computer system would be perfect so it wouldn't send out those notices. But we live in an imperfect world. Receiving a letter in the mail that the parent already knows is not accurate is not the end of the world. Setting off a frenzy (albeit a small one) is nothing but drama-queening over a small matter

    As far as how many kids are truant, one of the links posted in the thread said that the area is experiencing a high level of absenteeism.
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    the vast majority of folks that need healthcare are on Medicare.. both rich and poor..

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    Re: 13 Year Old Piano Prodigy Treated As Truant By Public School System

    Quote Originally Posted by sangha View Post
    It was DCPS, not CPS. You're right about that, but the same thing applies.

    And in a perfect world, their computer system would be perfect so it wouldn't send out those notices. But we live in an imperfect world. Receiving a letter in the mail that the parent already knows is not accurate is not the end of the world. Setting off a frenzy (albeit a small one) is nothing but drama-queening over a small matter

    As far as how many kids are truant, one of the links posted in the thread said that the area is experiencing a high level of absenteeism.
    It is a big deal though to parents who don't know which one they are supposed to believe, especially when they keep coming. How do the parents know that the letter isn't about a later time their kid was absent and it actually wasn't excused? Not to mention the plain fact that getting constant phone calls over something like that would get downright annoying.

    Perhaps the area is seeing a high level of absenteeism due to the policies of the school. Not all families are the same. If the students know that the school isn't going to count them truant anyway for missing school then they might very well be more willing to just skip. This is a major problem with their system of doing things. Their system wouldn't be bad if it actually worked as it is supposed to, inform those parents/students of too many unexcused absences so they can account for them. Once they do though, take them off the system sending the information. If they can't account for those absences, then decide where to go from there.
    "A woman is like a teabag, you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water." - Eleanor Roosevelt

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    Re: 13 Year Old Piano Prodigy Treated As Truant By Public School System

    Quote Originally Posted by roguenuke View Post
    It is a big deal though to parents who don't know which one they are supposed to believe, especially when they keep coming. How do the parents know that the letter isn't about a later time their kid was absent and it actually wasn't excused? Not to mention the plain fact that getting constant phone calls over something like that would get downright annoying.

    Perhaps the area is seeing a high level of absenteeism due to the policies of the school. Not all families are the same. If the students know that the school isn't going to count them truant anyway for missing school then they might very well be more willing to just skip. This is a major problem with their system of doing things. Their system wouldn't be bad if it actually worked as it is supposed to, inform those parents/students of too many unexcused absences so they can account for them. Once they do though, take them off the system sending the information. If they can't account for those absences, then decide where to go from there.
    No, it's not a big deal. But of course, there are attention seekers who think anything that involves them is a big deal.
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    Justice Thomas' opinions consistently contain precise, detailed constitutional analyses.
    Quote Originally Posted by jaeger19 View Post
    the vast majority of folks that need healthcare are on Medicare.. both rich and poor..

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    Re: 13 Year Old Piano Prodigy Treated As Truant By Public School System

    Quote Originally Posted by sangha View Post
    No, it's not a big deal. But of course, there are attention seekers who think anything that involves them is a big deal.
    As a parent, I can tell you that this would be a big deal to me, to constantly receive emails, letters, phone calls telling me one of my sons were going to be referred to CPS or charged with truancy, even if someone kept telling me "no, it's taken care of". Why? Because it is driven into us in the military at least that you have to get things in writing. Plus, there is that paranoia that maybe you didn't know what your child was doing at one point and these aren't absences you knew about.
    "A woman is like a teabag, you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water." - Eleanor Roosevelt

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    Re: 13 Year Old Piano Prodigy Treated As Truant By Public School System

    Quote Originally Posted by roguenuke View Post
    As a parent, I can tell you that this would be a big deal to me, to constantly receive emails, letters, phone calls telling me one of my sons were going to be referred to CPS or charged with truancy, even if someone kept telling me "no, it's taken care of". Why? Because it is driven into us in the military at least that you have to get things in writing. Plus, there is that paranoia that maybe you didn't know what your child was doing at one point and these aren't absences you knew about.
    There's a simple solution for when someone won't give you written confirmation of a verbal communication. Just send them a registered letter describing the conversation. No biggie.
    Quote Originally Posted by matchlight View Post
    Justice Thomas' opinions consistently contain precise, detailed constitutional analyses.
    Quote Originally Posted by jaeger19 View Post
    the vast majority of folks that need healthcare are on Medicare.. both rich and poor..

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    Re: 13 Year Old Piano Prodigy Treated As Truant By Public School System

    Quote Originally Posted by sangha View Post
    There's a simple solution for when someone won't give you written confirmation of a verbal communication. Just send them a registered letter describing the conversation. No biggie.
    Except that it is a "biggie". It should be their responsibility to ensure their system works, rather than our responsibility to deal with their system issues. In all likelihood, it isn't the system at all, but someone putting info into the system not doing it right. But that is still their responsibility to take care of.
    "A woman is like a teabag, you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water." - Eleanor Roosevelt

    Keep your religion out of other people's marriages.

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    Re: 13 Year Old Piano Prodigy Treated As Truant By Public School System

    Quote Originally Posted by roguenuke View Post
    Except that it is a "biggie". It should be their responsibility to ensure their system works, rather than our responsibility to deal with their system issues. In all likelihood, it isn't the system at all, but someone putting info into the system not doing it right. But that is still their responsibility to take care of.
    The world is not perfect. It may be the system's fault, but it's still no big deal.
    Quote Originally Posted by matchlight View Post
    Justice Thomas' opinions consistently contain precise, detailed constitutional analyses.
    Quote Originally Posted by jaeger19 View Post
    the vast majority of folks that need healthcare are on Medicare.. both rich and poor..

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    Re: 13 Year Old Piano Prodigy Treated As Truant By Public School System

    Quote Originally Posted by sangha View Post
    The world is not perfect. It may be the system's fault, but it's still no big deal.
    It's not enough to file a lawsuit, but it is enough to have your complaints heard, which is what this family did. They got their complaints heard, and brought the problem to the public eye, even if it is a minor issue. Obviously it was important to them. And it could be important to other families, especially in that area as well. Heck, some people even on this thread seemed to not be aware that students could get excused absences for something like this girl did.
    "A woman is like a teabag, you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water." - Eleanor Roosevelt

    Keep your religion out of other people's marriages.

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