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Pittsburgh Public Schools Sent 952 Students To Truancy Court During COVID

Last fall, the 21,000 students in Pittsburgh Public Schools faced back-to-back challenges while settling into a year of remote learning.

Instead of attending musicals or homecoming football games, students and families faced the real-world impacts of a national shutdown. As families searched for stability, students struggled to get and stay connected to online classrooms. And they had other priorities to juggle: new jobs to help their parents, mental health needs, caring for siblings or finding necessities like housing and food. Some new barriers made it difficult or impossible to show up to school.

Despite mounting barriers to virtual attendance, truancy citations summoned families and students to court, even as state lawmakers, researchers, local leaders and truancy experts urged for leniency.

Pittsburgh Public Schools [PPS] briefly paused truancy citations after buildings shut due to COVID but referred 952 students to court for truancy in the 2020-21 school year, according to data provided by the school district in response to a Right-to-Know request. This number does not reflect if a student was referred multiple times, which can and does happen when unexcused absences don’t stop.

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