Buchanan measure aimed at cutting chronic school truancies

Cost of truancy to Alameda, Contra Costa Counties is $80 million

State Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) has introduced legislation sponsored by Attorney General Kamala Harris to address chronic truancy in California schools.

Forty years ago Student Attendance Review Boards (SARBs) were created by the legislature to provide local interventions for truant students rather than referral to the juvenile justice system, Buchanan said. However, creation of SARBs currently is voluntary.

"Student success is directly correlated to student attendance," she said. "It's simple, when students are not in class, they don't learn."

"With the right individuals at the table, such as mental health or social service agencies, we can work with students and families to find positive solutions to attendance challenges," she added. "It begins by requiring every county office of education to have a SARB to support local districts."

Buchanan explained that when operated collaboratively, county SARBs are an effective tool to provide training, guidance, and oversight to local district SARBs. A strong SARB can identify attendance or suspension patterns that can be addressed with prevention strategies prior to a hearing or referral to the District Attorney's office.

The combined cost of truancy to Alameda and Contra Costa counties is approximately $80,020,789, according to the attorney general's In School + On Track report.

Assembly Bill 1643 is part of a package of five bills sponsored by Harris that together will help schools, parents and agencies effectively intervene when children are chronically absent and improve local school districts' and counties' ability to track attendance patterns.

The bill has been referred to the Assembly Education Committee.


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Posted by LMP
a resident of Danville
on Mar 13, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I'm not surprised Buchanan wants more folks on the public payrolls. The schools already know about the truancies. How about making parents responsible?

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Posted by Diane
a resident of Danville
on Mar 16, 2014 at 8:03 am

I think it is a great idea to provide support and direction to students who habitually miss classes, rather than involving the juvenile justice system. LMP is right, however, as there are financial realities that inform these decisions, given that schools are given a set amount of $ per student, per day. I consider this more of a win-win though, given that attending school is bound to be better for the child than whatever else they are doing with their time.

I also wish that all parents had the motivation and ability to ensure their school aged child attends classes regularly, but not all parents are so inclined and some are lost as to how to force an exceedingly challenging child to comply - and the ultimate result is that the child suffers as they enter adulthood.

I hope this program takes hold and provides a useful resource.

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Posted by Judy
a resident of Danville
on Mar 17, 2014 at 1:15 pm

@LMP please don't give a knee jerk right wing reaction that this is somehow bigger government and larger public payroll. What they are doing here (if you take the blinders off) is to give the child tools to be able to cope/change before going to the justice system. Its called trying to find the root cause and support system to help the child adjust and thrive.

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Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Mar 21, 2014 at 11:59 am

Let's get serious here as it is all about the money which is why a dollar amount was listed in the article. You really think they care about the kids? When my kids were at Tassajara the about $27 dollars a day was brought up in e-mails when kids missed class, not that they were missing instruction. Give me a break!!!!!

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