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Mayor Announces Opening Of Truancy Center In Harlem

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With less than a week to go before the start of the new school year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Tuesday a new initiative to help keep kids in class.

The city is opening a first-of-its-kind truancy center located in Harlem.

"The Engagement Center" will be a joint venture between the Manhattan District Attorney, the New York City Police Department, the Police Athletic League and the Department of Education.

Instead of focusing on punishing the students for skipping school, the new center will focus on getting kids back on track.

The goal is not only to cut down on truancy, but also to cut down on crime.

"Each year, something like one out of every five students in our public schools misses about a month or more of classes," Bloomberg said. "That is 200,000-plus kids chronically absent, and that seriously hurts their ability to keep up in school."

Students brought in who are found to be chronically truant, missing 38 days of class or more, will receive additional services.

Those students will be given tutoring and mental health counseling. They will also be paired up with two mentors. One will be at their school, picked by the student. The other would be a social worker based at the center.

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