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(Afro) — David Clarke isn’t a cop or a truant officer, but for a few years now he has taken his fight against truancy directly to students’ front doors. Behind those doors, Clarke often finds students and their families in crisis causing unexcused absences.  Clarke, the admissions director for the six D.C. schools operated by Specialized Education Services, Inc. (SESI), said student truancy often has complicated underlying causes.  “Most of our students are not skipping school just for the heck of it,” Clarke said.  “I have found some of our kids with no food, no electricity, no heat or hot water. Some were left to babysit younger siblings. Others were afraid to leave home because of neighborhood beefs,” said Clarke. “Some had no clean clothes, no money to do laundry and were embarrassed to come to school because they didn’t feel presentable.”  Mary Rinder, co-director of SESI’s High Road Academy for high school students with learning disabilities, said getting these students back into the classroom is the first step.

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