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NEWARK, N.J. (CBS) — A New Jersey principal is hoping to wash away the vicious cycle of bullying in his Newark school. West Side High School Principal Akbar Cook had a big problem with absences.

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He said he eventually found out it was because some students didn’t have clean clothes to wear to school.

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To fix the problem, the principal turned the school’s old locker room into a free laundromat that’s equipped with five commercial grade washers and donated laundry supplies.

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“I’ve seen a few kids in the back of the class talk about one of the people in front of the class and how they smelled and how their clothes looked dirty,” said Nasirr Cameron.

“Many times the students may come in because they’re embarrassed, they don’t look the same, somebody’s complaining about a body odor. I would say, ‘OK, baby, then we’re going to have to do it the old way. We have soap, we have water,’ but now with this laundry room, we don’t have to do that,” said Jamila Hammond, the school’s social worker.

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The laundry room is available to all students after school from 3 to 6 p.m.