Truants' families risk losing their homes

21st July 2006 at 01:00

Families living in council houses face eviction if their children truant more than ten times.

The measure, a "tough love" edict backed by the local education authority in Norwalk, Connecticut, was passed by its housing bosses last week.

Fifteen per cent of Norwalk's 80,000 residents live in "public"

accommodation - the closest US equivalent to council housing - subsidised by the federal government, so the measure could have far-reaching effects.

Curtis Law, executive director of the Norwalk Housing Authority, which is pushing the plan, said: "I've been here long enough to see the third generation in public housing. Unless we help (students) to be successful academically, there's (little) chance of them getting meaningful employment."

Under the plan, students skipping school more than four times would be asked to attend community learning centres. After more than six absences, parents or carers would be asked to perform community service. After seven no-shows, officials will call a meeting with families.

Mr Law said he didn't expect families to be put out on to the street. "We want to support and work with families," he said.

Norwalk's proposals take their cue from a similar scheme in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since 2003, it has been credited with improving attendance without ever having to evict anyone.

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