Adult and Teen Charged with Truancy in First Cases Under New District Attorney Truancy Program

For Immediate Release
January 23rd, 2002
Contact: DDA Danielle Augustin
(714) 935-6455

Adult and Teen Charged with Truancy in First Cases Under New District Attorney Truancy Program

ORANGE – The first two offenders to be charged under a new District Attorney truancy program were in juvenile court today to face the charges.

A prosecutor filed three counts of truancy against a 17-year-old high school junior and one count of truancy against Carlos Ayala, 50, who didn’t make his fourth-grade son attend school. Both offenders live in Anaheim. Adult truancy is an infraction; the minor’s case is a status offense.  These filings come after numerous interventions by teachers, counselors, law enforcement and school district officials.

The high school student was charged on Jan. 8; Ayala was charged on Dec. 24. Both cases involve an extensive history of truancy and tardiness to school.

The Truancy Response Program began last year with $220,000 in state and federal grants to fund three prosecutors.  The program consists of a truancy notification letter that is sent to parents of students at risk of becoming habitually truant.  It explains the parents’ responsibilities in regards to getting their children to school.  If that letter is not enough to end the truancy problem, the parents and students may be invited to a parent meeting conducted by a prosecutor which again outlines their responsibilities and consequences related to attendance. If, after the meeting, the student still does not attend school, the parents and child attend a SARB (Student Attendance Review Board) hearing. The SARB panel, potentially consisting of school officials, counselors, nurses, police officers, community representatives, probation officers, and the a prosecutor are present to discuss the child’s truancy problem.  If, after all of these interventions, the child still does not attend school, the case may be referred for filing in court.

Currently, the District Attorney’s Office is training school personnel on various options available for truant children, including the possibility of prosecution.  Besides attending the SARB meetings, the truancy prosecutors conduct parent meetings, speak at school training sessions, review truancy cases, advise schools on truancy protocol, and structure new court processes in dealing with these cases.