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