Last school year, one-third of the Oakland school district’s elementary schoolchildren missed at least three full days of school, unexcused. Of those, 1,482 missed 10 days or more, according to district data (and my own basic math). That’s 7 percent — one in every 14 kids in grades K-5.
At Brookfield Elementary, the percentage was much higher; 29 percent of the children missed 10 days or more without a valid reason given to the attendance clerk. At Reach Academy and Santa Fe Elementary, 28 percent of the children missed at least two weeks of school.
How did those schools do on the California Standards Tests? I wonder how many of the students who tested “below basic” were frequently missing from class.
Brookfield: 36 percent proficient or advanced in reading; 30 percent below or far below basic. In math, 49 percent proficient; 21 percent below or far below basic.
Reach: 13 percent proficient or advanced in reading; 64 percent below or far below basic. In math, 28 percent proficient; 43 percent below or far below basic.
Santa Fe: 27 percent proficient or advanced in reading; 39 percent below or far below basic. In math, 36 percent proficient; 34 percent below or far below basic.
I observed Alameda County’s truancy court earlier this month for a story that’ll be in tomorrow’s paper. One mother was there because records showed her child had only attended 38 full days of the 180-day year. The family had undergone more than its share of tragedy that year, deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick said in court, before the judge referred the family to counseling.
Drenick said most of the families she sees are overwhelmed by their life circumstances — mobility, homelessness, etc. — or their mental, emotional or physical conditions. Sometimes, she said, they need the court to step in.
Drenick helped draft a bill by Mark Leno, which the Legislature could pass this week or next, that would allow the the D.A. to charge parents of chronic elementary/middle school truants — those who’ve missed 10 percent of the year or more — with a misdemeanor, rather than an infraction.
The parents may enter a guilty plea and have the judgment deferred. She says they’ll only end up in court after they’ve failed to respond to the school district’s warnings and services.
What do you think about SB 1317?