California Truancy Is at ‘Crisis’ Level, Says Attorney General

Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, September 30, 2013

One out of every four California elementary school students—nearly 1 million total—are truant each year, an “attendance crisis” that is jeopardizing their academic futures and depriving schools of needed dollars, the state attorney general said in a report to be released Monday.

In her first annual study of elementary student truancy, Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris said school districts lost $1.4 billion in 2010-11 in state education dollars, which are distributed based on student attendance. Those losses amounted to $340 million in L.A. County, the report said, exacerbating the financial crisis in recent years that has resulted in deep cuts to school staff and programs.


Among counties, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo and Calaveras had the highest truancy rates—about 30%—last year. Los Angeles County’s rate was 20.5%, with about 166,000 truant elementary students.

Among school districts, three of the five elementary campuses with truancy rates at 90% or higher were in the Pasadena Unified School District, where the overall truancy rate increased to 66% last year from 17% in 2008-09. {snip}

Los Angeles Unified’s overall truancy rates also rose during the recession to 43% last year from 28% in 2009-10 and lost $126 million in state dollars this year. Part of the problem, district officials said, was the cut of nearly 30% of its specialized attendance counselors over the last five years. But under a program launched last year, the rates have started to decline.

State law, which requires children ages 6 to 18 to attend school, defines truants as those who are absent or tardy more than 30 minutes without a valid excuse three times in a school year. Those absent without a valid excuse for 10% of the school year are considered chronically truant and at high risk of academic failure.

One 2011 study of 640 California children found that only 17% of students chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade were reading at the third-grade level by then, compared with 64% of those who attended regularly. More than 250,000 elementary students were chronically truant in 2011-12, the report said.

Harris’ interest in the issue was sparked when, as San Francisco district attorney, she found that a disproportionate number of criminals and crime victims were high school dropouts whose academic failure began much earlier, said Brian Nelson, special assistant attorney general.

But some community advocates were wary about the deepening participation of law enforcement in truancy issues. Ashley Franklin of the Community Rights Campaign, a Los Angeles organizing effort to minimize such involvement in schools, said legal threats to truant parents or their students would have a negative effect.

Harris and others say law enforcement can make a difference, however. When Harris began sending notices informing parents they could be subject to criminal penalties if they don’t send their children to school, truancy rates fell 40%, Nelson said.

The L.A. city attorney’s office and L.A. Unified send a similar letter to all families at the start of the school year.

But officials stressed that prosecution is a last resort. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office prosecuted only four parents in the last year—including one Los Angeles man who refused to send his three children to school for at least three years—but has assisted more than 3,400 families in 350 schools through its Abolish Chronic Truancy program, said Lydia Bodin, the deputy district attorney who heads it. {snip}



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  • WmarkW

    California is the nation’s whatever-the-opposite-of-belleweather-is.
    From seventh in the nation in educational attainment to 50th, based on all that vibrant diversity

    • MBlanc46

      It’s bellwether.

  • Luca

    Take away the free school lunches and watch the truancy rate quadruple overnight.

    Mexicans send their kids to school for the free lunches and free babysitting service, nothing more.

    • Erasmus

      Now that California’s “leaders” are willingly surrendering to the illegal Mexicans, watch their numbers go into the stratosphere, truancy from school to skyrocket and state test scores to go even further down the toilet.

    • John Ulfsson

      “free school lunches”

      But it isn’t fre-

      Oh wait, it is to them. Free lunches at the expense of whitey.

  • Spartacus

    “…she found that a disproportionate number of criminals and crime victims were high school dropouts…”


    And an even more disproportionate number were dark-skins, but let’s not say that…

  • ncpride

    And they’ll find a way to blame this on Whites in 3..2..1…

  • Puggg

    One out of every four California elementary school students—nearly 1
    million total—are truant each year, an “attendance crisis” that is
    jeopardizing their academic futures and depriving schools of needed

    “Needed dollars” is more like it.

    Harris’ interest in the issue was sparked when, as San Francisco
    district attorney, she found that a disproportionate number of criminals
    and crime victims were high school dropouts whose academic failure
    began much earlier, said Brian Nelson, special assistant attorney

    I thought it was because they couldn’t learn algebra as freshmen in HS.

    But officials stressed that prosecution is a last resort.

    Also an idle threat. The jails in California are chock full.

  • Kids who don’t want to learn or can’t learn aren’t in school, and the state has to pay out less attendance money. So what’s the problem?

    Kamala Harris said it herself, that this “crisis” means the state didn’t have to fork out $1.4 billion that it otherwise would have had to. The California state budget, while suffering from disastrous deficits just a few years ago, is close to being balanced. Maybe not having to spend $1.4 billion helps that cause a lot.

  • sbuffalonative

    Buffalo public schools have the same truancy rate. 25%. Black failure is at 53%. That’s what you get when you have a majority black school board and 3 successive black superintendents.

    • MBlanc46

      When the students are black, the ethnicity of the superintendent and school board are immaterial.

      • sbuffalonative

        Your comment made me laugh and I agree with you.

        But majority black school boards and superintendents come up with the wackiest programs to help ‘struggling kids’.

        It’s the blind leading the blind. Or, blacks leading blacks. Same thing.

        • MBlanc46

          Thanks. They have to keep coming up with wacky programs because they can’t say, and most of them don’t even think, the truth: blacks are less able to learn than whites and Asians. “Blacks leading blacks”: good line.

      • 36XYZ

        I agree, however, the racist system seems to place a certain number of minorties in these positions to do their bidding. LAUSD is a fine example.

        • MBlanc46

          It certainly does. And they’re no more effective at educating black and Hispanic students than white administrators and boards.

  • TeutonicKnightsTemplar

    Too bad the truancy rate for White children isn’t as high, it would keep a lot of filth out of their heads.

    • texasoysterman

      Homeschool, homeschool, homeschool.

  • JohnEngelman

    There is no mention here of how racial truancy rates differ.

    For several thousand years whites and Orientals have faced evolutionary pressures in favor of academic aptitude. Blacks and American Indians have faced evolutionary pressures in favor of physical aggressiveness.

    This effects the way whites, Orientals, blacks, and Hispanics respond to academic environments. These different responses cannot be changed in a few generations.

    • Reverend Bacon

      Yes, there is no mention. However, the counties most affected are clearly the agricultural counties; most likely these are Hispanic immigrants, legal or otherwise, who skip school to go pick crops.

      And, counties such as LA county are more diverse, so they would mask the black truancy through the law of large numbers; in this case, large numbers of white people. So your suspicions, while probably correct, cannot be confirmed without more granular, disaggregated data. Kampala Harris does not wish this data to be known, until it suits her aims for more handouts for “her people,” the appeal for which I am sure is coming. Right now, she’s pretending to care about all her constituents, and looking for something that will catapult her to national limelight. She’s an educated, attractive, biracial (black and East Indian) woman who has aspirations well beyond her average-to-below-average intelligence.

      There are probably several things going on here: (1) rural Hispanics are truant because of crops; (2) Blacks and urban Hispanics are truant because of gangs; and (3) rural whites are truant because of either agriculture, or philosophical differences with the state Curriculum/Doctrine.

      Of course, the answer to the Hispanic question is that the illegals should be deported, along with their spawn. It’s hard for the liberals to claim that these kids will one day become pillars of their communities when they are dropping out. More likely they will become burdens on society.

      The Black question is, in the short term, a difficult one. Tying welfare to school attendance is an idea; so would dumping the so-called “Larry P” law which prohibits using IQ tests, or any standardized tests, to divide blacks into learning categories. (as should be obvious to all here, this would essentially create a “separate but equal” learning environment, as simple statistics would place over half of all blacks, along with about 15% of whites, into some form of special education.)

      In the long term, of course, the answer should include tying birth control to welfare, and thus sowing and reaping fewer low-achieving kids.

  • APaige

    When I was in the middle of high school the state passed a law that tied money to attendance. The school made a rule that each student only had 5 unexcused absences a quarter or you flunked. Attendance never became an issue again.

    • The problem with that approach is that schools would rapidly end up with 17 year-olds in sixth grade classes.

      A more effective approach would be to simply put the parents in the county jail for 90 days. Let’s see how much they like mopping floors for eight hour shifts because little Dontavious or Jorge wasn’t at “skoo”.

    • Funruffian

      But the Blacks would scream ‘Racism!’ Since they are so special, as a teacher, I would motion that they can be as absent as much as they want. After all, ‘Truancy’ be da White Man’s rule and it bee Racist en sheeit!

    • dumbfuckdemocrats

      That only works if the parents cared about their children flunking. I’ve seen 20 year old blacks still in high school as juniors.

  • I’m going have to pipe up and say that in this respect, California suffers from what we would call a “bimodal distribution”.

  • Mississippi’s school age population is half black.

  • Funruffian

    As a substitute teacher in a Title 1 School district I used to quietly rejoice whenever the Black kids never showed up to class. It was a relief and saved me much stress.

  • Luca

    Those percentages are meaningless when relating to school-aged children. Especially when many of them went undocumented or are recent arrivals. Nor does it tell you how many White children attend private school.

    In the LA area I see many schools that look more like the Tijuana school district.

    • newscomments70

      My Mexican neighbors in LA sent their kids to schools in the Tijuana area because they were safer than LA Unified.

  • dumbfuckdemocrats

    California also has twice the unemployment rate of Texas and fewer fortune 500 companies. So you have a bunch of people graduating, and many of them leaving the state to find jobs elsewhere. California will go the way of Brazil.

    Let’s compare whites with whites, since nearly half of the population of the Deep South is black.

  • dumbfuckdemocrats

    Dallas ISD is about 10% white even though whites make up 40% of the city.

  • Brian

    How many of these high achievers are native Californians?