Walter Mencken 10:15 a.m., Dec. 13
Dumanis Skips School
In California, truancy is defined and enforced per Education Code Section 48260. In compliance, the San Diego Unified School District operates a School Attendance Review Board with a staff of ten employees responsible for calculating attendance and publishing monthly reports. Some staff also trains school staff in attendance and enrollment procedures, while others conduct school site audits to ensure report accuracy and district compliance. According to District spokesperson, Bernie Reinerson, approximately 1000 students are chronic truants costing the district about $3.6 billion annually in state funds, or on average $3,600 per chronic truant. In response, School Trustee Kevin Beiser requested assistance from San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. While the district regularly circulates its own “Attendance Letters”, the SDUSD/DA partnership resulted in a letter written by the DA that was mailed to parents at their homes this week, at school district expense. SDUSD 2009-2010 School Year: Top Contenders % Student Truancies: Elementary: Carver, 23.67; Knox, 24.46; Riley, 50.00 Middle: Whittier, 40.00; Riley, 62.75; Unified Day, 69.70 High School: Alba, 61.21; Marcy Day, 70.24; Unified Day, 85.71 Current policy requires several mandates and interventions occur prior to a Juvenile Court referral for truants. Potential penalties include jail time and/or fines for parents. Beyond the loss of funds, truancy studies data obtained from The Children's Initiative, a non-profit San Diego County agency, indicate students who chronically miss school are more likely to dropout from high school and as a result, be poorer, unemployed, have substance abuse problems, become teen parents and be involved with the law.