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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Report: Poor, Minority Students In Washington More Likely To Be Labeled Truants

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Washington State Center for Court Research

Poor and minority students in Washington state are more likely to be labeled truants. That’s a according to the state’s 2015 Truancy Report out Wednesday.

The law is clear in Washington. If a student has seven unexcused absences in a month, or 10 in a year, that counts as truancy. And the school district is required to file a truancy petition with juvenile court.

But according to the truancy report, that only happens in about a third of the cases. Students who are reported as truants -- at least in the high school grades -- are disproportionately students of color, low-income students or in special education.

Another finding of the truancy report: over 60-percent of high schoolers who are labeled truant drop out before obtaining their degrees.

These findings come 20 years after Washington passed several laws to address truancy and runaways. The Becca Laws as they are known were named after a 12-year-old runaway named Becca Hedman who was murdered in Spokane.

The report recommends the state expand effective truancy services to all juvenile courts and school districts.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."