Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Package of Truancy Legislation Passes State Legislature

Thursday, August 28, 2014
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that a package of legislation to help local school districts and communities address California’s elementary school truancy crisis has passed out of both legislative houses and is on its way to the Governor’s desk.

“Each year approximately one million California elementary school children are truant from class. Good education policies are meaningless if students aren’t at their desks,” Attorney General Harris said. “I applaud the legislature for bringing us one step closer to stopping this crisis.”

If signed into law, these bills will:

  • Help schools and counties work with parents to address the core reasons behind truancy and chronic absence.
  • Give local school districts and counties tools to comply with attendance tracking requirements in the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), state truancy mandates and state and federal reporting requirements.
  • Modernize state and local systems to track and prevent truancy and chronic absence.
  • Ensure that schools, districts, counties and the state can evaluate the success of interventions to combat truancy and chronic absence.

Attorney General Harris announced her sponsorship of the four bills and introduced the legislative package at a March 10, 2014 press conference with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Assemblymembers Raul Bocanegra, Rob Bonta, Joan Buchanan, Isadore Hall and Chris Holden.

A complete list of education, public policy, and law enforcement leaders and organizations who have endorsed the legislation is available here: http://bit.ly/1liXv9O.

The legislation will, if signed, put recommended reforms from Attorney General Harris’ 2013 report, In School + On Track (https://oag.ca.gov/truancy) into law. The report contained the first state-wide statistics on California’s elementary school truancy crisis. It revealed that in the 2012-2013 school year, 1 million elementary school students were truant and 250,000 elementary school students missed 18 or more school days at a cost of $1.4 billion in lost funds to California school districts. Annually, dropouts cost California taxpayers an estimated $46.4 billion in incarceration, lost productivity and lost taxes.

Next month, Attorney General Harris will issue the 2014 In School + On Track report containing updated statewide figures on elementary school truancy and its fiscal impact on local school districts.

Attorney General Harris’ Truancy Legislation Package

ASSEMBLY BILL 1866 - Statewide Attendance Data System

Author: Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra

Adds truancy and absenteeism to the information collected by the state Department of Education. California is one of only a few states in the country that does not collect student attendance data. This bill will allow local school districts to monitor and analyze attendance patterns, as required under the Local Control Funding Formula.

ASSEMBLY BILL 1672 - Enhanced Student Attendance Review Board (SARB) Reports

Author: Assemblymember Chris Holden

Expands annual reports from local School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs) to include information on student enrollment, absence and truancy rates, district attorney referrals and SARB intervention outcomes. Current annual SARB reports provide minimal information about intervention outcomes, so it is difficult to get the full picture of SARB efforts around the state. This bill ensures schools, districts and counties can evaluate the success of truancy intervention efforts.

ASSEMBLY BILL 1643 - Improved SARBs

Author: Assemblymember Joan Buchanan

Adds representatives of a county district attorney’s office and county public defender’s office to both county and local School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs). This will provide local courts with a broader understanding of attendance issues and will enhance the ability of SARBs to solve the root cause of truancy problems.

ASSEMBLY BILL 2141 - District Attorney Referral Outcome Reports

Authors: Assemblymember Isadore Hall, Assemblymember Rob Bonta

Requires that district attorney’s offices provide a report to school officials on the outcome of a truancy related referral. This helps school officials determine which outcomes are most effective and guarantees baseline information sharing between referring agencies and prosecutors.

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