NYC has lost track of thousands of homeless students: audit

NEW YORK — Public schools in New York City are losing track of thousands of homeless students and thus depriving them of their education, according to a months-long study carried out by the city comptroller, the findings of which were released on Thursday.

The mayor, however, said the situation is far better than the new audit suggests.

The audit found that about 19,000 children -- 58 percent of homeless students -- were chronically absent.

A sampling of chronically absent students showed they missed about 25 percent of the entire school year and that in most cases -- 92 percent of the time -- the Department of Education did not contact parents to tell them their kids were missing.

The mayor responded directly to the report.

"We put forward a year ago an entirely different model for how we are going to approach shelter that focuses on keeping families in their own boroughs and ideally as close to their own neighborhood as possible," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

"We have also put into shelters, tutors and attendance officials to help make sure there is follow-through to help get kids to school, so it's a real issue but it's one we're trying to address at the root and one we take seriously."

At a family shelter, a mother told PIX11 News that she feels it's a parent's responsibility to keep kids in school but that schools have to keep families informed.

Her child's school uses an app called Class Dojo, which gives parents daily updates.

The city's top investigator said more like that must be done.

"The new chancellor has got to break this apart," Comptroller Scott Stringer said.

In a statement, the Department of Education said:

"This has been a serious challenge in our city for decades. Our administration is tackling it head-on with investments in school and shelter programming, including dramatically expanded bus service, more social workers, and better monitoring so we know who’s missing from class."