Following on Randi’s heels, the city’s public advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, has a statement out on the New School report that found 20% of elementary school students missed at least a month of school last year.

Gotbaum’s take is that the problem stems from a lack of “institutional support” from the Department of Education, which is failing to support principals who want to increase attendance but don’t have the resources to do it.

The full statement:

The DOE plays hooky when it comes to a strong absenteeism policy. They are placing the blame on principals, but I go to schools all over the city, and I see principals who are trying hard to address the problem head-on. They want to lower the absenteeism rates at their schools, but they can’t do it without institutional support from the DOE. The DOE must do more to increase attendance monitors in high-need communities and provide resources and logistical support to help schools deal with language barriers when trying to reach parents and students at non-English speaking homes. And more should be done to help principals find creative solutions like working with CBOs that know the community and expanding school-based health care, so kids aren’t missing full days of school for a doctor visit.