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Lost in the system: Frustrated families say schools aren’t keeping track of students

NEW YORK — It started with a letter saying her 9-year-old son was failing the third grade at an East Flatbush school and then workers with the Administration for Children's Services showed up at her door.

They said records showed Cayden had been absent from school at PS 244 for more than 130 days, according to mom Carla Gibson.

"The young lady sat down with us and she said that the school said that he'd been missing from school 100 days the last year and 35 days to date this year," Gibson said.

But her son goes to a private school and never even attended PS 244. The family has awards from the boy's school up on the wall.

“I feel so hurt to think that something like this could happen," Gibson said.

Their story is not the only one. PIX11 recently reported on Gabrielle Morris, 9, who got a letter from the Department of Education stating she'd been promoted to the 4th grade for her outstanding work. It came years after she left PS 244.  She doesn't even live in New York anymore. The DOE said what happened to Morris was a clerical error.

Since sharing Morris' story, 10 other families have come forward with almost identical stories.

Attorney Abe George is working with Gibson and a few of the other families. He’s drafted a letter to the DOE and to ACS.

"Why isn't the school calling the parent first rather than taking the action of calling the marshal, calling ACS and saying 'mom, dad - why hasn't your son gone to school in the last hundred days?' If they made that simple phone call, they'd find out that student's enrolled somewhere else," he said.

George believes this is more than just a mistake or clerical error.

“Safety is our top priority and when a student does not show up to school we make every effort to contact their family, which may involve contacting the state," a DOE spokesperson said. "We will look into this matter.”

PIX11 reached out to ACS  for comment. The agency has not yet responded.

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