While all local school districts are back in session, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris is hoping new legislation will keep students in class.
The package of legislation - AB 1866, AB 1672, AB 1643, and AB 2141 - addresses what Harris calls California's elementary school truancy crisis.
"Each year approximately one million California elementary school children are truant from class. Good education policies are meaningless if the students aren't at their desk," said Harris.
If signed into law, AB 1866 will add truancy and absenteeism to the information collected by the state's Department of Education. As required by the Local Control Funding Formula, this bill will give school districts the resources to monitor and analyze attendance patterns.
With AB 1672, information on student enrollment, absence and truancy rates, district attorney referrals and School Attendance Review Board intervention outcomes will be mandated to be included in the annual reports from local SARBs. Hoping to get a better idea of SARB efforts throughout the state, the additional information will expand upon the minimal information about intervention outcomes that is currently required.
AB 1643 will provide local courts with a broader understanding of attendance issues by adding representatives from the county district attorney's office and the county public defender's office to both county and local SARBs. With its passing, the bill will help SARBs get down to the root of truancy issues.
If passed, AB 2141 will require the district attorney's office to provide a report to school officials regarding the outcome of a truancy related referral.
The bills now await Governor Jerry Brown's signature. If signed into law, these bills will address the core reasons behind chronic absences, give school districts the tools to comply with attendance tracking requirements, and modernize state and local systems to help prevent truancy.