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To combat ditching, Prince George's County schools appeal to parents and students

Fifth grader Ethan Bunkley, 10, looks over the line of students while waiting to enter Bond Mill Elementary School on the first day of school in Laurel on Tuesday, Aug. 25. To stop kids from skipping school, Prince George's County schools are educating parents and students about the benefits of regular school attendance as part of September's Attendance Awareness Month
Fifth grader Ethan Bunkley, 10, looks over the line of students while waiting to enter Bond Mill Elementary School on the first day of school in Laurel on Tuesday, Aug. 25. To stop kids from skipping school, Prince George's County schools are educating parents and students about the benefits of regular school attendance as part of September's Attendance Awareness Month (Staff Photo by Jen Rynda)

In an effort to stop kids from skipping school, Prince George's County Public Schools are educating parents and students about the effects of chronic absenteeism as part of September's Attendance Awareness Month.

"Attendance is essential to school success because everyday counts, and everyday matters," said PGCPS Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell. "Students who are chronically absent are more likely to suffer academically. It is the responsibility of our schools, administrators, parents and care providers to ensure that every student is present each day."

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During the 2013-2014 school year 20.9 percent of PGCPS high school students were absent more than 20 days, compared to 16.9 percent of all Maryland public high school students, according to the Maryland State Department of Education Report Card.

According to state law, guardians must ensure that students between the ages of 5 and 17 who are enrolled in public school attend school regularly. If a student accumulates excessive unexcused absences, his or her guardian may be convicted of a misdemeanor and imprisoned or fined by the courts.

Absences are only excused by PGCPS for reasons such as illness, which requires a doctor's note, hazardous weather conditions, observance of a religious holiday or death in the student's immediate family.

For more information on Attendance Awareness Month and for tips on preventing school absenteeism in both English and Spanish, go to //awareness.attendanceworks.org/.

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