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NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES

There are new questions about Tony Mitchell, the star basketball player from Pinkston High School.

Mitchell who is now under investigation by the Dallas ISD was named the top player in the city recently and is one of the top recruits in the country.

But News 8 has learned that there may be more academic problems for the athlete than first thought.

We first reported last week how Mitchell mysteriously went from being a freshman to a senior in just a matter of hours, and how he failed to graduate as scheduled last week.

Now there is a new mystery: How did school administrators let Tony Mitchell play basketball at Pinkston High School given his more than 100 unexcused absences?

Mitchell was headed to the University of Missouri next fall after being named Dallas Player of the Year by The Dallas Morning News.

But his collegiate career may be in doubt.

News 8 has already reported how Mitchell started the year as a 17-year-old freshman; and how after taking nine tests in just a few hours, he suddenly qualified as a senior.

Now this:

News 8 has obtained student attendance records that illustrate another problem. Soon after Tony Mitchell enrolled at Pinkston, he began accruing unexcused absences.

Day after day.

Week after week.

Mitchell's record shows 52 days with at least one unexcused absence roughly one-third of the school year.

From the beginning of school for the next seven months, Mitchell missed 102 classes due to unexcused absences, many of them coming immediately after his basketball season ended the second week of March.

Yet Mitchell continued to play for Pinkston, and up until a few weeks ago News 8 has confirmed Principal Norma Villegas was working with Mitchell in preparation for graduation.

What's more, a student may be declared truant after 10 or more days of unexcused absences within a six-month period, or if there are three unexcused absences in one month.

The high number of absences also raises questions about Mitchell's eligibility to play basketball on a team he led to the regional playoffs for the first time in Pinkston's history.

Principal Villegas has declined to discuss the Mitchell situation with News 8, as have DISD administrators.

We do know that Mitchell's academic credits have become the focus of an internal investigation, but at this moment, there is no indication that his unexcused absences have been or will be addressed.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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