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Kyle Lynde knew he shouldn't have been hanging out, not with a price on his head for skipping school.

It didn't take long for Central Linn High School's bounty hunters to spot him and send him back to class.

For each student returned to class, Donna Bronson, 39, and Marie Ekenberg, 48, are paid $300; monitoring the student's progress is worth another $200 to the team; and a diploma means a $500 bonus.

Their efforts involve no guns, handcuffs or violence -- just a written agreement with each student that lets them know he or she is being watched.

"I love doing this," Ms. Bronson said. "I consider it a privilege spending time with these young people. If we didn't approach them, probably no one else would have."

State educators say the district, 80 miles south of Portland, is the only one in Oregon that uses a bounty system for truants. Its 3.5 percent dropout rate is half the state average.

Since the women started prowling the district in March, they have earned a reputation for relentlessness, stirring students from bed, tutoring at least one in jail and advocating for them in court.

"When they are not where they say they are supposed to be, we know who their friends are, and we go get them," said Ms. Bronson, a high school dropout.

The women serve 40 students, including one of Ms. Bronson's sons and Ms. Ekenberg's daughter.

At least four of their students have graduated or earned a general equivalency diploma.

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