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Opening Statement of Councilmember Grosso

Chairperson, Committee on Education
Committee on Education and Committee of the Whole
Joint Public Oversight Hearing on Improving School Attendance: Truancy, Chronic
Absenteeism, and the Implementation of Reform Initiatives
October 3, 2018

Last time during our hearing, we learned of the approaches DCPS and PCSB are
utilizing to work with and identify students who are struggling with tardiness and
Just last week, I visited Turner Elementary where Principal Bethel is doing
amazing work. What struck me though, was when we talked about his students’
chronic absenteeism.
Principal Bethel said he knows the 45 students who are driving the chronic
absenteeism rate, and after talking with those parents, many of them are facing
immense transportation issues that force them to make critical choices those of
us with privilege would never have to make. The Kids Ride Free Program was
supposed to help address these issues, but lately I have been unsure that this is
the case.
Over the past few weeks, the Committee on Education has heard many
complaints about lack of SmartTrip cards, aggressive tactics from Metro Police,
and other serious obstacles to students getting to school.
This is a hearing on attendance and every conversation I have had with students
leads back to the struggles they face just simply getting to school.
Today, I have questions about the Kids Ride Free program, it’s impact on
attendance, and how we’re addressing a leading factor in our fight against
chronic absenteeism.


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