Back on track
PUSD goes in search of truant students
By André Coleman 09/18/2013
As part of a new student recovery program in the Pasadena Unified School District, officials began visiting homes Wednesday to find students who have either been chronically absent or not showing up for class.
The “I’m In!” campaign is part of a district strategy to monitor and prevent excessive absences by students at all grade levels. The program is also designed to provide options to students on the verge of dropping out of school because of a legitimate inability to attend classes.
“Our schools are working at an accelerated pace and a single day of missed instruction can adversely affect the student’s academic progress,” PUSD Superintendent Jon Gundry said in a prepared statement.
The school district is in part funded based on the number of students attending classes, or Average Daily Attendance (ADA), and loses money if children do not attend. The district receives about $6,000 per student. A 1 percent decrease in the district’s annual attendance rate would mean a loss of $888,000 in funding from the state.
Next month, PUSD will begin using Attention to Attendance (A2A), a program which monitors absences and automatically generates letters to parents if students are truant three times, or if they are more than 30 minutes late to school or class, or have excessive unexcused absences.
On Monday, PUSD’s Twilight School will open its doors, providing several different programs for Pasadena area students, including classes for those who are not on track to graduate and general educational development (GED) programs for adult students.
In 2009, the district began a truancy intervention program designed to hold parents accountable for the attendance of their children. As part of that program, truant children and their families are called in for an initial interview. If the child still doesn’t show up for class, they must then appear before a review panel that considers the situation. If that fails, the next step is going before a School Attendance Review Board, or SARB. If a student is still not going to class, they could be referred to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution as a juvenile, and the parents could be referred to the City Attorney’s Office to face misdemeanor charges.