Bay District Schools Superintendent speaks before House panel for help with missing students

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–Each year, hundreds of students in Bay District schools go unaccounted for. They’re either unable to be tracked down or in some cases, parents are purposely keeping them home. Superintendent Bill Husfelt is trying to change that.

Husfelt and five other Florida Superintendents spent Thursday speaking before the House Appropriations Committee in Tallahassee.

“They wanted to know what we were doing about missing students and we have about 200 students where we don’t know the whereabouts of,” Husfelt said.

In Bay County, 45 elementary students, 58 middle schoolers, and 83 high schoolers are all unaccounted for.

“Some parents have said they’re homeschooling their students but we don’t have any documentation on it, some have just not shown up and we can’t locate them,” Husfelt said.

This struggle is leading Husfelt and fellow school leaders to ask lawmakers to consider legislation that would give additional teeth to a current law in being able to hold parents accountable.

“Once we find the parent, there’s nothing that allows us in the law to actually do anything to hold them accountable for taking care of their children,” Husfelt said.

Their concerns were well received at the State Capitol.

“All of them were very grateful to hear the Superintendents across the state say ‘look we just need to be able to do more. We can’t do this by ourselves,” Husfetl said.

Husfelt says tracking down these missing students is vital for their safety.

“We know the abuses that go on to children that we can’t see on a regular basis,” Husfelt said.

It also impacts their future.

“If they don’t get a high school diploma, we know their life is set up for terrible things,” Husfelt said.

The district has successfully tracked down 586 missing students this school year. 214 remain.

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