Truancy and consequences

Hayward Unified launched a truancy campaign last week, here’s our story from Sunday. It’s going to be discussed at Wednesday’s board meeting, you can find the report and accompanying information here, starting on page 116.

As was mentioned in the story, there are other ways to combat truancy, including the city’s daytime curfew ordinance that was passed a year ago. And as Mr. Kyle has mentioned, a new law went into effect Jan. 1. Sen. Mark Leno’s SB1317 ups the previous penalties for parents of habitually truant students. Parents could be jailed for up to a year and fined $2,000 if prosecutors can make a case that they didn’t adequately encourage their child to make it to class. Applies to kids up through 8th grade.

Essentially, it adds truancy to a list of neglectful things that parents can be jailed for, a list that previously included stuff like not providing adequate clothing, food, shelter or medical assistance.

It is up to the District Attorney’s Office to pursue the penalties offered by SB1317. A year ago, when Hayward passed the administrative fines, one of the reasons given was because while govt. code provided the power to fine parents through the courts for their kids’ truancy, it was seldom used because it would tie up the courts.

The HUSD campaign is more of a carrot than a stick approach. Actually, more of a “get out the word” type of deal, and it’s important to note that the district is talking about the importance of minimizing excused absences as well — whatever the reason class is missed, lessons are not learned nor attendance funds banked.

Would like to hear your thoughts. Here’s some additional truancy information.

Eric Kurhi

  • I looked at the agenda for Wednesday and quite frankly the piece on Truancy is nothing more than a dog and pony show..and one that has been presented in different “clothes” in years past. I really don’t understand why HUSD has let this problem get soooo out of hand. It appears as if they are afraid that parents will revolt if they are required to send their children to school or face serious consequences.

    Each year schools, the district and teachers stress how important it is for students to come to school every day…For those who listen and read their students arrive, sometimes sick, at school every day and on time. For those who for what ever reason don’t listen, their children consistantly miss school and miss out on the education that is so vital to their success.

    It is time to use the big stick and take parents to task for ignoring their responsibility. The time for kid gloves is over.

  • Eric Kurhi

    Just got an email from an administrator in another district who saw the truancy story. Had the following comments:

    Effective plans have these elements:

    1. Calendars that are driven by student and family needs; not employee-union work day desires.

    2. Identification and student recognition of who is in class on which days. Effective plans have individual names on charts showing who is in school.

    3. Incentives for increased attendance. Both for the school and individual student who improves.

    4. Review of the reasons why students are not in school. Usually focus around family problems, transportation or older siblings having to take care of your siblings.

    5. Does a district have a plan that allows students to make up days on Saturdays or Sundays for days missed. Districts can receive ADA for Saturday and Sunday. Students have to attend school for 180 days. Does limit to M-F

    Of course academics are likely to improve if students are in school more.

  • Thanks Eric for that information.

    For some reason we do not want to put parents on the hot seat. Saturday school has only been implemented for students at the high school level…at least that is how it has been in the past. The district will claim that they have to pay extra to teachers for Saturday school…omg! Let’s use salary costs to jsutify not mandating Saturday School. How about an administrator, doing Saturday duty…How about the Superintendent being the designated worker????

    I thought the real purpose of the parent centers was to help address the needs of families and to provide support from other parents to assist them with transportation, child care, etc. I really have no idea what the parent centers are really focusing on. Can anybody tell us???

  • John W. Kyle

    Sunday‘s story by Kurhi is welcome relief to the indifference exhibited by his editors in the past few years.

    Once again, Ms. Roccio misreads the Sunday Story about money loss at HUSD. Well, what would one.expect from a citizen, who having been disappointed at the polls in 2008 and failing appointment to the seat once occupied by ms. Gonzales, turned to an attempt at recall which if it had gone to a ballot opportunity would not have won her a seat but would hold up her mind set to ridicule over the expense to HUSD in that attempt at recall.

    For those interested you might seek a copy of my letter dated Jan 24th addressed to HUSD Trustees and cc’d to many at interest without spending postage on the typical blog contributor.

    My letter was disopared this date dispatched to HUSD trustrees and abiut 8 OR 9 others on a cc basis.. I enclosed a copy of my September l1995 letter to the reditor when HUSD Supt Marlin Fixworth was still with us and ubder fire from HUSD for not having ‘cured’ the ADA problem WITHIN HIS FIRST TWO YEARS.

    Marlin’s agrgument? ‘twas reasonable for some minds…! He too was fired!. See what he had to say in my Sept. 95 letter to Review o which a copy was sent the current board as of this date and would provide additional insitght into the ADA.

    It ought be available to those interested on Thursday Morning as a matter of public record. Present your self to Clerk of the board for that read. She sirs just out side the Sipt’s office.

    I do not presently believe that any blog contributor will seek a read of that letter…. perhaps they will blurt it out at public comments on Wednesday night and some more astute taxpayer will pickup on the issue presented in the letter..

    In essence I accuse Trustees and Administration of not performing their duties.

    Contrary to belief of Ms. Stephenson… (the lady in charge of ‘curing’ the ADA problem,) what is needed immediately is filing of a court case or two under the terms and conditions of Calif. State Bill 1317.

    Failure to do so is an act of incompetence warranting a recall of trustees.

    Sending a neglectful parent to the lockup for a week or a month will CAUSE AN IMMEDIATE TURN around in Truancy statistics. When one High school suffers loss as cited being experienced in Mr. Kurhi’s long awaited exploration of investigative reporting … A daily loss of $4,500 at one HS …that condition must change immediately otherwise there is a case for malfeasance in office..! It is ‘nice to be nice’ which was the sum total of theological thought in an Oakland Church back in the 1950’s. Here in Hayward the sin of presumption occurs with Me. Stephenson as she continues down the road of ruin, in her present thought daze. Supplications ro negligent parents will not work. Direct action against one or two parents will grab attention and keep Mr. Kurhi busy for an issur=e or two.

    Do you think for one minute that I would vote for a parcel tax under the conditions presently existent?

  • The Silent Observer

    I’ve been a HUSD parent for 10 years. This school year, a big emphasis has been placed on student attendance. Letters have been sent out from Mt. Eden and Eden Gardens regarding ADA funds and how much each school loses as a result of absences. An automated call recently came from district H.Q. promoting good attendance. Eden Gardens has an incentive program for good attendance, my 4th grade son just brought home a certificate today for a free meal at the Elephant Bar as a reward. Students with perfect attendance this trimester will have their names entered into a raffle.
    The district is trying to make parents aware of how school funding works and why attendance is important.

  • John W. Kyle

    Silent Observer

    I have p0laced a copy of my letter to the Editor dated published in revie Sept 11, 1995. In that letter find description of the ADA problem as it was a big issue… 15 years ago…. it has onbly grown worse. Did you read the Sunday issue of the Review in which Mr. Kurhi trevealed the fact that it has grown even larger.

    Letters to parents and meetings with them…. are not working. Omne high School loses $4,500 per day due to Hookey.

    Direct aaction against one or two parents under the terms of Senate Bill 1317 is needed tio gain a major immediate reaction by oparents of Hooky players.

    It is a cold world and hookey players are making it tougher to treach.

    Enforce the law once or twice and watch how soon the rate of absenteeism drops signifuicantly.

    Present yoputr self at HUSD offices of Supt omn Thursday Maorning and see if you do not agree with my letter to trustees which urges quick effective action.

    If not now…. when?

  • K Rocchio

    I think there are some important differences between truancy and ADA. When your child stays home sick or attends a funeral for a member of their immediate family, their absence is considered excused. This type of absence does not count toward truancy. However, many parents believe that this excused absence does not hurt the District financially. The State of CA computes ADA based only on student attendance with no attention to excused or unexcused. There are very few exceptions to this rule.

    I think we need to do a better job at working with our parents using many of the ideas above. I think parents need to understand their options to utilize Independent Study Contracts, Saturday School, Community Input regarding the School Calendar and Recognition Programs.

    I believe we need to look at options like withholding participation in school-sponsored activities from students on any day they are not in attendance. I can’t tell you how many students will miss a day of school, but manage to show up for a dance or sports practice. Suddenly they are feeling better.

    With the computer based attendance tracking, there should be some way to increase/decrease the revenue supplied to each site based on their attendance records. This might make it more important to each site to raise their awareness and participation in this program.

    I think the focus on getting the students the education they deserve is just as important as the focus on ADA. However, I agree with Silent Observer that we need to stress the importance of ADA and educate our parents on how the funding works. Kathi, this would be a great subject for Parent Centers to tackle. I can tell you the Parent Centers I have seen are focused on fitness right now (offering aerobics to parents).

  • John W. Kyle


    The fact remains that when a school notices a consistent money loss of $4,500 per day, that an immediate cure is required ! It is called discipline!

    Impose discipline upon parents whose offspring are costly in termms of staff salaries, lack of onsite psycologists etc./.. then it is time to utilize SB 1317

    No excuses, just do it!

    Fitag is a dog and pony show. You indicated earlier that the group was trying to reduce the budget by about $7,000,000 for school year 2011-2012.

    Has that group completely lost it’s collective mind?

  • The Silent Observer

    I just noticed that SB 1317 applies to students through 8th grade only. The truancy rate is the worst at the high school level.

    How much is the high dropout rate costing us?

  • John W. Kyle

    Silent Observer;

    Go to the agenda posted on HUSD website for meeting of Jan 26th.

    The agenda is lengthy but scroll down to Exhbit H.2 page 4 of 29 in that exnibit’

    You will see some interestind data, scho0ol by school… for example Bret Harte MS witj enrollemnt fluictuatin from a high of 621 and low of 602 averaging 621 the total days acumulated days of stuudent absence was 2,124 Get it?

    Hayward Gigh with 4 month average enrollment of 1,451 students experienced absences totaling 9,180 absence days for the four month period.

    An inreesting read of 629 students over the four month reporting period saw the accumulative total number of absences at 1,779.

    About 13 months ago I stuck my nose into the count of paroled felons under supervised releazse. Along about February or March The Reoporter at the Oakland Treibune did some investigative reporting about the parollee counts in the various Cities of Aklameda Count5y.

    Oakland was incorporated as a City on or about 1851 wgile Hayward was incorporated ihn 1876. Thise two cities are afflicted with older housing which you and I would recognize as low income housing.

    While Gayward has been diligent in meeting ABAG’s goals for low income housing, Pleasanton has not.

    The result was that the ANG article dealinbg with paroled felon counts saw Oakland leading the oatrade at about 2,600 paqrolees under suoprevision. Hayward had ‘only 550 + in that count whiole pleasantomn had but 12. On parole, looking for housiong? Try Oakland or Hayward but find yopurself shut out at pleasanton….. get it? My memory of the counts suggest no more than 70 felons on suopervised parole, live in eastern portion of Alameda County.

    Now with the Fed Court order to release 40,000 we do not see those individual counts being apportioned but you must assume that Oakland and Hayward are getting their share… while Pleasanton, which lost a court decision in their attemopts to continue ignoring ANBAG goals for low income housing. Onew would think that City of Hayward would join in on attempts to expedite compliance at Pleasantomn…

    You can easily assume that the paroled are also parents of Children in HUSD classrooms….. Is there a correlation to be made which inbvolves paroled parents ( Momn o9r Dad ) in the lost ADA monet occuring with truancy?

    I say, bring an action in the court of law which will, if successful,grab the attenion of recalcitrant parents.

    Do it immediately so that the affect will occur prior to consideration of budget for aschool year 2011- 2012.
    If HEA fails to concur, simply tell them to sit down and shut up!

  • Eric Kurhi

    Information addendum: I heard back from Chien Wu-Fernandez, HUSD’s director of student and family support services. Too late to get the info into the story, but, regarding how much ADA money the district is losing per year, she said the former assistant superintendent of business services, Barry Schimmel, calculated that for each percentage point of absenteeism eliminated, the district would gain $1 million. Elementary and middle schools currently have about 95 percent average attendance rate, while it’s about 93 percent at Hayward high schools. That’s total absenteeism — excused absences included. The district goal is to increase both of those by 2 percentage points. So if Schimmel’s calculations are accurate, the district would gain $2 million/year if it makes its goal.

  • Thank you Eric for that bit of information…it appears that many who read the article did their own calculations that seemed to be way out of the spectrum of what HUSD loses annually. This makes much more sense…It would have helped you if HUSD’s representatives could have given you this information when you wrote the original article. Two million is still a bundle of money..but it does not begin to close the budgetary gap that has been presented.

  • John W. Kyle


    It might be well if you obtained information from Andrew Kevy of Husd whose task is dedicated to attendance data.

    In the HUSD attendance data information to be discussed as an agenda item at HUSD meeting of Jan 26th, it has an interesting page at Exhibit H.2 page 4 of 29. In the extreme right hand columns the average daily attendance figures are compared with the total days absent for each school in the district.

    Mr. Kevy provided me a copy of the truancy rate data for the entire school year 2009- 2010 dated July 13, 2010.

    The middle school serving your neighborhood reflected a truancy rate of 71.35% The Longwood elementary school experienced a rate of 38% on an enrollment reputed to be 719 students, for year 2010-2011 the enrolment is down, seems to be down consistently below 650 level but days absent for just 4 months is reported at 1,779 days absent.

    I would have mailed this to your home but you regard that act as an unwarranted intrusion on your right to privacy. Get out your calculator work on the numbers.

    In year 2009 – 2010 reported enrollment was calculated to be 21,319 students and their absences totaled 10,432 days for a truancy rate overall, at 48.94% about doubled from the experience seen during Marlin Foxworth’s days! That man kept asking the question ”how do you improve test scores when the average student lasts just two years at HUSD” OF COURSE THERE HAS BEEN NO IMPROVEMENT, JUST A WORSENING OF THE API CONDITION IN THE LAST 15 YEARS.

    I DO NOT THINK TO IMPROVE YOUR PERSONAL ATTUTUDE, BUT IT MIGHT BE INTERESTING TO READ YOUR REACTION TO THE LETTER, AUTHORED BY ME AND SENT TO HUSD TRUSTEES. It ought be available as matter of public record on Thursday at Board Secy’s desk just outside the door separating her from Supt’s office.

    Since Andrew Kevy task seems centered on attendance stats, my further suggestion to you is to get your information source straightened out.

    Incidentally, the absentee rate at Ochoa MS may be tied to the fact that since the traffic light at Longwood Hesperian was placed there without consideration of access to transport by Middle school students. That poor former School principal whose bitterness over failure to extend Stonewall to Longwood is still seen raising that ’issue’. Had the light been placed at Marin,. AC Transit would have been compelled by their own rules to detour one of the first three buses leaving BART which use Winton Ave to reach the mall stop serving employee needs at Mall which does not open until 10:00 am

    A solution is being considered…
    Be sure to attend all neighborhood meetings… if it works the kids living in South Garden/ Marin Victory drive area might have a single morning bus pass through the neighborhood via Nevada Rd.
    Truancy might thus be effectively reduced… consider the plight of those kids who stay home rather than walk the convoluted road miles, to reach the presently available bus stop on west side of Hesperian during inclement weather. If you and Johnny G. haven‘t noticed… they stay home during inclement weather..

    City is planning a series of neighborhood meetings on South Garden….. Lend your influence to that if you are really concerned about kids?

  • K Rocchio

    FITAG Update: Last night we discussed the Governor’s Budget and what it means to HUSD. One thing that was pointed out was that if the Tax Extension fails in June, not only will we be looking at reducing the 2011-12 budget by $7.6 million, but an additional reduction of $6-7 million would be needed. We also discussed ADA calculations and all of the components that come into play, including the calendar. After this we moved on to discuss items that were suggested budget reductions and the potential savings associated with each. We discussed potential revenue options and in the coming weeks we will review the key savings pieces for each item. We will also be considering the impact of each cut on the students. I can tell you that some of the items currently being discussed will cut deep and definitely impact services offered. If you have any ideas you would like, I encourage you to attend the next meeting or contact any member of the FITAG.

  • teachermama

    The difference between an “excused” and “unexcused” absence is whether or not the attendance clerk checks his/her voicemail, because in my experience it is nearly impossible to get a human on the phone in a Hayward school office.

    Any kind of reward linked to fast food or other chain restaurants really annoys me. Public schools have no business building brand loyalty among its youngsters, and shuttling community dollars to corporations. All that free exposure for the price of 1 kid’s meal is a win-win for big food biz, but what does it do for kids, families and independent restaurants? Pizza for reading? Elephant Bar for showing up to school on time? Are you kidding me? Harumph.

  • The Silent Observer


    Is there an attendance awareness campaign at your school? Are there any incentive rewards for the students?

  • teachermama

    I think the district is raffling off ipods. I thought that was at all the schools, but I’m not sure. My post was pretty grumpy, huh? I just think creative little in-house incentives for perfect attendance are nicer, like lunch with the principal, a school T-shirt, gift certificates for whatever the PTA is selling afterschool, or if the school meets a collective goal they earn something like a staff-vs-student basketball game or the principal does something funny. I guess you go with whatever works, though. The kids are totally jazzed about the ipods.

  • K Rocchio

    We also have an ipod raffle for perfect attendance at the elementary level. I know at the middle school level they give out things like a pass to the front of the lunch line, homework passes, 1 mile run pass, dance tickets, etc. The kids love them! I think some of the high schools give parking spots, school merchandise or school “bucks” that can be used to purchase snacks or other things sold by the school. These all seem to work well for the kids.

    When we were discussing the impact of attendance at the last FITAG meeting, it is really the academic importance that is top priority. While there is a great deal of funding tied to ADA, it will not solve all of our financial troubles. It is the instructional time that our students need! When every student is in their seat every day, on time, it allows the learning to be consistent and helps keep everyone on task. When you miss a day, particularly at the middle and high schools, you miss a lot! If you know that you will be missing time from school, work with your school to get your independent study contract so that your student can stay current with the classwork.

  • teachermama

    Kelly, I love those incentives! I’m going to suggest them to our SBDM.

  • John W. Kyle


    Seems like Reynoso’s concern for legal feels has grown from $600.000 to $ 1,000,000 overnight. One might wonder why he is not concerned about the $4,500 lost each day at just one high School…. Perhaps he is unable to do the Math.

    Not too long ago we were all concerned about the over payment of the stipend to Trustees and there was much talk about seeking recovery…. But it was dropped as a topic on the blog…. Anyone have the answer? Surely we need that money…!

    Heredia sits at the far left because it appears the Triumvirate managed to grab her seat….the fellas are very protective of the Presider….right? Heredia is just inviting your attention to the fact…… Does she fear Reynoso…. Well you never know when his flying right might pass too close to her left…… assuming she was dumb enough to shift left.. Sheila Sima sat at Reynoso’s left so his right hand was not the threat to Ms. Sims that it would be if Heredia sat closer….come on give the lady some space !!! It is a manufactured issue for God only knows what purpose occurring in the mind of the City’s present great gadfly…. Bouncing with his waving arms from meeting to meeting and who, while seated makes no bones within his utterances about the presence of crooks…. Etc.. etc.

    Some might ask why McGee usurped the seat ???/ Naw give that thought up… that might conflict with the desire to have HEA’s interests constantly at the center of attention. I thought it interesting that the outburst at the rear center of the assembly room on the night right after the changing of the guard, emanated from the mouth of the main HEA leader… and went unchecked by she who held the gavel Clearly out of order….. Obeisance problem evident? On the other hand Presider seems to be paying some close attention to the utterances of Mr. Armas. Anyone else noticed that, yet?

  • John W. Kyle


    Wake up ! It is time to stir the pot…. contribute to ideas which might eliminate another $4,500 loss at a certain High School in Hayward!

    Get hoing.. stir your juices… do something!

  • trigliker

    I agree with John Kyle. Something needs to be done. From what I am gathering, no one wants to work with him. Why not? To bad he is the one leading it.

  • Michael Moore

    Trig, you have to be kidding.

  • John W. Kyle

    Eric kURHI;

    AnoTJER SLAM BY Sir Moore ! How many activities in public service, sa a volunteer, has Moo0re associared with? I wouldn’y mind his slam against me,. the pOPE OR THE r.c. cHURCH IF i THOUGHT THE GENT WAS MAKING AT LEAST AN ATTEMPT AT SOME VOLUNTEER EFFORT IN PUBLIC SERVI

  • trigliker

    No. I am not kidding. Something has to be done. It is unfortunate that John Kyle is wanting to head this something up. He has a point about creating ideas.

    I can see (by reading posts) why people do not want to work with him though. It is too bad that the idea is coming from him. I wonder if he will stop slamming people himself. But I guess with old age comes rudeness. But I may be wrong, I am not rude.

    Solutions is what the school district needs.

  • Lucy’s Mom

    I appreciate the hard work of putting together this attendance campaign. I hope it works; most likely we will see improvements at the elementary level, and maybe some at the middle school. It’s not going to work for high school students. I see too many students in the street. After I leave my daughter at her school, I passed near a middle school and high school, after 8:30 these youngsters should be in their classroom. What is the root of the problem? While setting this campaign, did the District people interview these students? Who are they? What do they need to make school meaningful to them? Have they talk to their families? Have school officials studied their school transcripts? My children are young, but I have neighbors that have their children in high school and they tell me the opportunities to catch up are gone!!!!!!! There is no summer school, no adult school, and the 8 classes a year program is no longer an option. What is the real plan for our adolescents? The two charter school will not educate these kids, or maybe they should. We should have them develop a program for students at risk! Ha! Not really, they only take the students serious about education, the minute students mess up, they are out!
    We should demand a better plan for truant students in grades 7 to 12. The district needs to talk to these students. Not everything get solved by warming a seat on 24411 Amador St.
    Trigliker: Welcome to the discussion!
    There is no excuse for rudeness, most of us are interested in making Hayward a better place, not to hear someone patting himself on the back at every opportunity and insulting people left and right.

  • Lucy’s Mom,
    I have many of the same questions as you do…and so did some of the board during the presentation. When it comes to high school students the best means to develop a plan is to interview them. They are not afraid to speak the truth and say what is wrong and why they don’t attend school on a regular basis. I hope that the attendance people and Ms. Fernandes listened to the board and will report back before March what information and insights they got from going to the students themselves.

  • John W. Kyle


    The ada problem has been with us for mamy many yeaars……

    What justificatuion is there for failing to use SB 1317…. the SHOCK value of sending just one parent to ail for a week would bring immediate attention to the seriousness of the need to cure a problem which has cursed the district for 20 YEARS OR MORE.




  • When somebody gets a reassurance from the Alameda County DA that they will indeed prosecute and ask for jail time then maybe people will join the “jail-em” band wagon.

  • Lucy’s Mom

    Thank you for the news! Hopefully, I will get to see the video soon. If the attendance staff and Ms.Fernandez do not get to work on that, why keep them employed?
    ADA is important, the education of the students is crucial.