|For Immediate Release March 12, 2008||Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
TRUANCY INTERVENTION TEAM TARGETS CHRONICALLY ABSENT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL KIDS AND PARENTS IN NEW GANG PREVENTION PROGRAM
ANAHEIM – A multi-agency truancy intervention program, the first of its size in Orange County, has been launched to identify elementary school students with excessive truancy problems and bring them back in school. The Anaheim City School District (ACSD), Anaheim Police Department (APD), Magnolia School District (MSD), Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA), and Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) staged truancy interventions for 81 students and parents at four schools to decrease truancy and support positive student attendance. This program is part of a gang prevention program, Cal Grip, through the Anaheim Police Department.
“This is an exciting program that we’re going to take county wide,” said District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “Truancy is the number one indicator that children will get involved with gangs. Keeping kids in school is imperative in keeping kids out of gangs, off the streets, and in the classrooms. Giving children an education is the best shield we can give them to resist gang membership and we need to start the process early. Law enforcement agencies, the school districts, and the parents all need to work together to show these kids that staying in school means staying out of gangs.”
“The Anaheim Police Department realizes the need to reach young people who are most at risk at the earliest opportunity. Supporting youth in our elementary schools, and in their homes, will give young people the skills and knowledge necessary to make good choices while they still have a chance,” said APD Chief John Welter. “The GRIP initiative provides an opportunity for all of us to join forces wherever and whenever possible. This is one of the most important crime prevention efforts we can undertake.”
WHO MEETS THE CRITERIA?
California Education Code Section 48260 defines a truant as any student with three or more unexcused absences in one school year. Penalties for repeated truancies can progress in severity from a written warning up to juvenile court.
Elementary school students between the ages of six and 12 with 10 or more unexcused days of absence meet the criteria for the truancy intervention program. Students with excessive excused absence days will also be considered if the excused absence is not verified by a doctor or a nurse. Students with excessive absences will be placed on a list. Each student targeted by the truancy intervention program is first approved by school officials familiar with the student’s record, including a teacher, community liaison, nurse, office staff, and an administrator.
On the day of the Truancy Intervention, a team consisting of a deputy district attorney, police officers, the principal of the designated school, and other school officials will show up at the home of each student on the pre-determined list of chronically truant students and who is not in school that day. Students that do not have a legally excusable reason for being absent will be taken to school in a patrol car. School-aged siblings who are also truant but not on the target list will also be taken to school. Each student who is at school on the day of the Truancy Intervention will be required to meet with the team on campus later that day to discuss the negative consequences of truancy.