Tuesday, September 16, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Kamala Harris: California’s ‘truancy crisis’ must be stopped

By
From page A4 | March 27, 2014 |

By Melody Gutierrez

SACRAMENTO — California is in the midst of a “truancy crisis” that needs to be stopped where it starts: in elementary school, state Attorney General Kamala Harris said last week as she joined lawmakers to announce a package of bills to help the state better collect truancy data.

More than 690,000 elementary school students — some 20 percent of the state’s K-6 students — were truant at least once during the 2011-12 school year, according to a report compiled by Harris’ office. Truancy is defined in California as when a student is absent or tardy by more than 30 minutes without a valid excuse three times during a school year.

If it’s not stopped at the elementary level, students are more likely to drop out of high school, and dropouts are more likely to end up in prison, Harris said.

“We take this matter very seriously,” Harris said as she stood with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and six lawmakers on March 10 to talk about five proposed truancy bills. “A child going without an education is tantamount to a crime.”

The bills would require the attorney general to issue a report on truancy each year, enhance truancy data collection to monitor attendance, require every county to create School Attendance Review Boards that issue reports on intervention efforts and require prosecutors to issue a report when charges against a parent or student are considered to enforce attendance laws.

No surprise
Harris said California needs to better collect student attendance data and put it to use instead of waiting for that person to be deemed a menace to society and pouring billions into the criminal justice system.

“Very little that happens in our society in terms of the systems we see in government is a surprise,” Harris said.

“We act like it’s a surprise, but it’s not. Almost all of it is predictable. Instead of being reactive, this data will allow us to be preventive.”

The announcement comes six months after Harris’ office released a report that detailed the extent of truancy and absenteeism in California schools and the resulting loss of $1.4 billion a year in funding, lower test scores and higher dropout rates.

Harris’ office summarized the societal loss at $46 billion a year when considering reduced earnings, increased welfare services and higher crime rates among high school dropouts.

Class not court
“We need to try to get ahold of our young people early and make sure they end up in the classroom and not the courtroom,” said Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, who authored one of the bills.

“With this slate of bills, we are not putting more students in the juvenile justice system, but inviting communities to intervene before they end up in the penal system.”

Harris’ report was the first statewide assessment of the truancy crisis, specifically examining elementary schools in each county and relaying the financial impact.

According to the report, Calaveras County led the state with a 31 percent truancy rate among 3,184 elementary students in 2012, while Yuba County posted a 4.9 percent truancy rate among its 8,159 students.

According to the state Department of Education, the truancy rates for Yolo County’s school districts in 2011-12, were 15.3 percent for Davis; 19.2 percent for Washington Unified School District in West Sacramento; 28.4 percent for Woodland; 51.5 percent for Winters; and 23.5 percent for Yolo County as a whole.

In the Bay Area, Contra Costa County had the highest elementary truancy rate at 29 percent, while San Francisco County was just above the state average with 23 percent.

While district attorney of San Francisco, Harris sharply reduced truancy rates by prosecuting parents and sending letters to every family in the school district warning them of the consequences of truancy.

She said her interest in truancy arose from a startling statistic: 94 percent of the city’s homicide victims under age 25 were high school dropouts.

— Reach Melody Gutierrez at mgutierrez@sfchronicle.com

Comments

comments

San Francisco Chronicle

.

News

Davis school nurses are stretched thin

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Dempsey: If campaign fails, ground troops possible

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Scotland took long road to independence vote

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Wright resigns his seat in California Senate

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
New DHS Hall-of-Famers

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A3

 
Exploration of dementia lecture set for Sept. 25

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Sierra Club gathers for morning walks

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

DPNS has afternoon openings

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Paws for Thought: Socialize your new pup at UCD’s Yappy Hour

By Evelyn Dale | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
DHS parents go back to school

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Sick-pay benefits expanded to millions

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A4

 
Bad roads cost Californians billions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Farmers market continues at Sutter Davis

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Yolo County’s looking for a few good advisers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Search the Internet at Connections Café

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Garage, bake sales benefit outdoor education trip

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A5

Sutter qigong classes start Sept. 22

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Halloween costume sale benefits preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Hundreds flee wildfires; homes burn

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Harmony Award nominations sought

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Da Vinci seniors take on Constitution essay

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

.

Forum

Sounds like a swell party

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Maybe not the best rebound guy

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

Carbon fee and dividend plan is the answer

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Nate Beeler cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

 
Many reasons to back Sunder

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

I support Madhavi Sunder

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
A leader with heart and vision

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

.

Sports

Finding the good in a tough DHS football loss

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1

 
More pressure on QB would be nice for Aggies

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

Raber: glad to join in bringing readers golf column

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B1

 
Open Cup final has local flavor

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1

Devil volleyball victories keep piling up

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS needs just 10 boys to top Elk Grove

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Highlights galore in Junior Blue Devil weekend

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Sports briefs: Big Monday for Masiel as DHS golfers win league opener

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

‘Shrek, The Musical’ shines at DMTC

By Bev Sykes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Irish fiddlers come to Davis house show

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Jenny Lynn and Her Real Gone Daddies play at Picnic in the Park

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Woodland artist hosts event at her new studio

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

‘Jane Eyre’ to screen at I-House

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Anais Mitchell to play Third Space

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: B5

 
Comics: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B7