The Kern County District Attorney's Office, Bakersfield City Schools and Kern High School District, have partnered to develop the Truancy Reduction Program in order to reduce truancy. When students skip school on a regular basis, not only do they miss out on the education that is crucial to their futures, but also they often start committing serious crimes.
The Department of Justice has reported that 78% of prison inmates have truancy as their first arrest. A shocking 57% of violent crimes are committed by juveniles when they should have been in school. It should be no surprise that 67% of truants test positive for drugs when they are detained. The Department of Justice also reports that 82% of prisoners are high school dropouts.
Education is the foundation for a prosperous future. The likelihood of slipping into poverty is about three times greater for high school dropouts than for high school graduates. Dropouts are more likely to need and receive public assistance than graduates, and make up nearly one half of the Heads of Households on welfare. For additional information http://www.boostup.org/flash/.
The education and well being of our children is our most important responsibility. Parents must make their children's education a priority and keep them in school. The whole community wins when our children succeed.
Who Is A Truant?
California law requires every person 6 to 18 years old to attend school every day and be on time. California Education Code section 48260 defines a truant as a student who has three unexcused absences during the school year, three tardies over 30 minutes, three class cuts, or any combination of the above. When a student has five unexcused absences, five tardies over 30 minutes, five class cuts, or any combination of the above, the student is considered a habitual truant under California Education Code section 48262.
How Does The Truancy Program Work?
Once a student is declared a habitual truant, the student and parent will be referred to the Attendance Review Board for a determination of the factors contributing to the student's lack of attendance. The board may extend community services and resources to the families in order to foster regular attendance. If attendance does not improve, the student and possibly the parents may be referred to the District Attorney's Office for prosecution.
Truancy cases are heard before a juvenile court judge, in the same way a juvenile criminal matter is heard. The consequences for the minor may include suspension or delay of driving privileges, a fine and between 20 to 40 hours of community service.
The consequences for the parent may include a fine of $100-$500 or possible parenting classes. If the parent is convicted of a misdemeanor, the fine could range between $50-$2,500, depending on the specific charge. The parent could also receive time in jail, depending on the extent to which the parent contributed to the student's failure to attend school. Under Welfare and Institutions Code section 11253.5, the County Cal-Works Office may reduce a family welfare grant if the child is not regularly attending school.