This week, the California Department of Education released truancy rates for the state’s public schools, organized by county. Truancy is defined as three or more days out of school without a valid excuse. The numbers show Santa Barbara County’s rate was nearly 10 percent lower than the state average, for the fourth year in a row.
The county’s District Attorney Joyce Dudley says she believes this is a result of the county’s CLASS program, a truancy intervention program. Dudley says the truancy rate from 2008 until 2011 was above the state average, prior to the introduction of the CLASS program.
The program includes a series of steps to intervene when a student is missing school. Deputy District Attorney Adam Howland said the school will initially send a letter to the child’s family. If more absences occur, the school and the deputy district attorney will hold a group meeting to discuss why the student may be missing school. Along the process, program staff try to get at the root of the absentee problem and offer concrete solutions.
Howland said parts of the program are modeled after those from other counties. Across the Central Coast, Monterey County’s truancy rate was slightly below the state average, with one third of Monterey County students deemed truant during this past school year. In San Luis Obispo County, the rate was slightly above the state average of 33 percent.