Santa Paula High School parents attend Mini SARB with Deputy District Attorney

December 30, 2005
Santa Paula High School

In an effort to address truancy issues, Santa Paula High School conducted a “Mini SARB,” or Truancy Education Program, as it is better known, in conjunction with the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.

Robin Gillette,SPHS Assistant PrincipalIn an effort to address truancy issues, Santa Paula High School conducted a “Mini SARB,” or Truancy Education Program, as it is better known, in conjunction with the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office. Deputy DA Gene Kinsey attended on behalf of the DA.As stated by Ventura County DA Greg Totten and the Santa Paula Union High School District, “The youth of our community are our most precious resource.”One of the earliest indicators that something may be wrong in a young person’s life is chronic truancy. With this in mind, it is imperative that we as a community collaborate and share our resources to do all that we can do to help our children become outstanding young adults.A Mini SARB, or Truancy Education Program, is an intervention to assist both the school district and parents with student attendance issues. A subcommittee comprised of member so the Ventura County Attendance Review Board (SARB) originally developed the program during school years 1998-1999. The Ventura County Office of the District Attorney collaborated with the Ventura County SARB to form a partnership to address the critical issues of nonattendance and truancy.Truancies result in enormous losses to the community, parents, students and the operation of schools. Students who are truant lose valuable instructional time and opportunities for skill and concept development. According to statistics from the District Attorney’s Office, 78% of prison inmates have truancy as their first arrest, 82% of prisoners are high school dropouts, 67% of truants test positive for drugs when they are arrested, and 57% of violent crimes committed by juveniles occur when the student should have been in school.We as a district have certain goals to accomplish with your student, that is, prepare them to pass the High School Exit Exam, earn a high school diploma, go on to institutions of higher education, stay focused, and be the best that they can be. These goals can only be accomplished if a student attends school regularly. The goals of the Truancy Education Program are to increase daily school attendance, hold parents accountable for their child’s regular school attendance, and reduce juvenile daytime crime. Parents have a legal duty to make sure that their children attend school from age 6 through age 18.So, just what is truancy? A student is considered truant if he/she is absent without a valid excuse three full days in one school year or tardy or absent for more than any 30-minute period during the school day without a valid excuse on three occasions in one school year, or any combination thereof. (Education Code §48260)What is a habitual truant? Once a student is declared a truant, a student becomes a “habitual truant” when another unexcused absence or unexcused tardy in excess of 30 minutes occurs. (Education Code §48262)
If your student has been truant, chances are you have been referred to the Truancy Education Program. Many parents have called in to either the attendance office or the Assistant Principal’s office in utter shock because they have been referred to the Truancy Education Program.Santa Paula High School already has interventions in place to address attendance issues. We use the auto-caller daily, which will call your home to alert you to the fact that your student has missed one or more periods of school on that day. We send letters notifying parents of unexcused absences, along with Saturday School notices to make up unexcused absences. However, our students are smart, and many times they will intercept the phone calls and the letters go into the “circular file” commonly known as the trashcan before parents arrive home.Yes, you cannot imagine the number of shocked parents that have called since they received a letter from the District Attorney’s Office! This referral process is perhaps for some parents the first time that they have received a notice of their child’s attendance issue, simply because they had to sign for the letter from the District Attorney’s Office. This notice was not intercepted.Continued truancy can result in parents being charged with an infraction and or fines, a misdemeanor and or fines, possible jail time, probation, a mandate to attend parenting classes, and or suspension of CalWorks programs. Students may also have charges filed against them, receive fines, be given up to 40 hours of community service, be required to attend mandated after school or weekend study programs, and suffer the loss of a driver’s license and or work permits.What constitutes a “legal absence”? Your child will be legally absent if they are ill, have a medical appointment, or there is a religious holiday, funeral of a family member, or a court appearance.When your child is absent from school, you must notify the attendance office to report the reason for the absence. Upon the student’s return, they must pick up a readmit slip from the attendance office prior to the start of school or during break. The student will have three days upon return to school to clear his/her absence. If the absence is not properly cleared, it will turn into an unexcused absence and your student will be assigned Saturday School.If you are a parent or legal guardian and you are concerned about your child’s attendance, do not hesitate to call the attendance office at 525-4406 extension 205, or Assistant Principal Robin Gillette at extension 220 for assistance. Talk to your child about what is going on, ask them about their attendance, and never hesitate to contact us.It is our greatest desire to ensure that your child receives his/her full education and to prepare them for a full and productive life. With the school and parents working together in partnership, we can get this done.Parents and students, please remember the second semester at Santa Paula High School starts Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 7:49 a.m.

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